From Gas-Station Gym to 5,000-Square-Foot Facility With Jonathan Watt

From Gas-Station Gym to 5,000-Square-Foot Facility With Jonathan Watt

Mateo: 00:02 – Hey, it’s Mateo of Two-Brain Marketing. On this edition of the Two-Brain Marketing podcast, I’m talking with Jonathan Watt from Townie: a Fitness Community. You’ll learn about his experience from running a gym out of a gas station to owning a 5,000-square-foot facility. You’ll also learn about his advertising system and how he spent $286 on ads and generated over $5,000 in front-end sales. So you don’t want to miss this. Make sure to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for marketing tips and secrets each week.

Greg: 00:29 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

Greg: 00:47 – We’d like to thank another one of our amazing partners, Level Method. As a CrossFit gym owner, I know retention is key to keeping my business going for years to come. Retention is not easy, though. People want to see success, and if you don’t show them early, they’ll find a place that does. This is where Level Method comes in. With Level Method, you are now able to guide yo ur members through an amazing structure that’ll give them a path to success. Once you have success, you instantly have motivation for them to continue, which will now be delivered to your members. Start systemizing the creation of powerful moments for your members today. Go to to book a free call.

Mateo: 01:24 – Hello, welcome to the Two-Brain Marketing podcast. I’m your host Mateo Lopez, one of the digital marketing mentors at Two-Brain Business. Thanks for tuning in and in today’s episode we have a very special guest, Jonathan Watt, owner of Townie: a Fitness Community, and you’ll learn about his experience and how in just one month he spent a little less than $300 on ads and added 10 new clients to his gym. So Jonathan, how are ya?

Jonathan: 01:52 – I am good, Mateo.

Mateo: 01:54 – For those who don’t know, that would be myself included, we just met today, for those who don’t know, tell us a little about who you are, where you’re from, and a little bit about your business.

Jonathan: 02:05 I’m Jonathan Watt, and my wife and I live in Thomasville, Georgia. We’ve owned our gym for, it’ll be four years in January. Which is crazy to think about, it’s been a long four years. It feels like more than four years, gym years are longer than regular years.

New Speaker: 02:25 I think that’s definitely true.

Jonathan: 02:27 – It’s like dog years, but yeah, so we’ve owned our gym for about four years now. And we met originally in Tallahassee. I was working at a gym in Tallahassee coaching, ran a boot camp program there. Always had a dream of opening my own space. And my wife encouraged me to pursue that dream and she’s been a big part of this as well. And so we moved kind of back to our hometown or our roots here in Thomasville, and opened our gym four years. And then it’s been, yeah, a wild journey since then.

Mateo: 03:02 – What kind of a businesses is it, is it a boot camp? Is it a functional fitness? What is it?

Jonathan: 03:07 – Yeah. Yeah. So we’re a CrossFit gym. We are an affiliate. So we primarily offer CrossFit. And then obviously, you know, we have group classes, and then with the help of Two-Brian, you know, we’ve added personal training and and nutrition coaching as well recently, which has been really, really big, with the help of HSN. So that’s been awesome. So yeah, with the help of Two-Brain we started to really expand our offerings and be able to offer, you know, more things and be able to help more people here in our community.

Mateo: 03:37 – So tell me a little about the name and the rebrand, perhaps. Tell me a little about the story there.

Jonathan: 03:43 – So Townie comes from, there’s actually a small paper here in town, in Thomasville, called the Thomasville Townie, so that’s kind of where we took our name from. And it’s originally my wife’s idea, so she can get credit for that. We originally were CrossFit Townie, that was our name or our brand. And about two years ago, we decided to just kind of rebrand just with the way that we were going with things and we were really looking to offer more, and add more to our business in terms of nutrition coaching and personal training and things. And so, yeah, so our goal was just to, you know, really kind of, you know, be able to hopefully, you know, let people become more receptive to us as a brand, you know, and not be maybe deterred away by CrossFit.

Jonathan: 04:35 – Where we are, being in South Georgia, CrossFit and maybe—you know, in the bigger cities, it’s obviously, you know, very widespread, but even still here in Thomasville, you know, people don’t necessarily know exactly what CrossFit is or maybe you know, kind of an idea in their mind what they think it is based off of what they saw on TV one time. And so, you know, the rebrand has really kind of helped us, you know, get over that hurdle hopefully initially and get people in the door and show them that, hey, this is our version of CrossFit and this is what we do and this is how we, you know, help people on a daily basis, you know, soccer moms to dads that are working, you know, nine to five and just want to get healthier and fitter. And so, you know, that’s our goal.

Mateo: 05:24 – How did you get into CrossFit? How’d you find fitness?

Jonathan: 05:28 – So I had a buddy in high school that never worked out a day in his life. And we were real good buddies. I always enjoyed working out. I was in the gym at school and enjoyed, you know, working out. But he was a good friend of mine. And after we graduated, I saw him probably a few months after we graduated high school and I ran into him and I was like, dude, what have you done doing? And he said man, I’ve been doing CrossFit. And I was like, well, what is CrossFit? And he said, come tonight, come to the gym and try it out. And, so I was like, all right, well, I’m down. You know, I was always up for something new.

Jonathan: 06:07 – I was tired of doing bicep curls and, you know, just the traditional bodybuilding stuff. And I was like, I needed something, being a former athlete. And so I went with him and instantly I walked in and it was, obviously, it was in— that was in 2010. And so it was certainly a different atmosphere than CrossFit gyms now as we’ve evolved and things. But it was, you know, it was grungy. It was, you know, it smelled, you know, like a gym locker room. But it was awesome, and I loved it and instantly I was hooked. And then from there, you know, I went to college, found a gym, was fortunate enough to really learn at a gym in Tallahassee there, from the head coach there. And he really poured into me. And I knew that I wanted to help people, you know, utilizing CrossFit and using a fitness as a medium to be able to work with people and help them, you know, not just with their fitness goals, but it’s so much more than that to people. So, you know, that’s kind of where it all started.

Mateo: 07:08 – So how did that switch happen though? Just cause loving CrossFit and then opening an affiliate, I mean, it’s a common jump, but it’s a big jump. What was the flip of the switch that made you want to, you know, go all in on it?

Jonathan: 07:24 – Yeah. Yeah. Well, I was fortunate enough where the gym I was at in Tallahassee gave me the opportunity to start kind of my own boot camp program within the gym. And I think that was probably the first kind of big step for me that was like, hey, you know, maybe I can, you know, do this thing, you know, on my own. And so I was blessed to have that opportunity where they gave me the opportunity to build a boot camp program and I had some success with it. And it kinda grew within this CrossFit gym, CrossFit box in Tallahassee. And so I think that, you know, kind of like showed me like, hey, you know, you can do this. You could be successful with this. And it’d always just been a huge, huge passion of mine, coaching, in and of itself.

Jonathan: 08:12 – I loved, you know, training, but just coaching people and being able to help people was just something that, you know, had a huge passion for. And with CrossFit, it just married those two things and really provided me that outlet to do that. So I think on my own, I wouldn’t have made the leap. But thankfully, you know, with my wife’s help and her encouragement, she was a huge part in telling me and believing in me that, you know, I can do this and we can do this and make it happen. And so we kinda just went all in on it when we decided to open up our gym. And I kinda think that’s maybe the only way you can do it, just going all in. So that’s what we decided to do. And it’s been obviously, definitely not easy, but you know, Two-Brain has been a huge help in really taking our business to the next level and being able to provide, you know, myself, coaches, an opportunity to be able to do the things we love, which is help people.

Mateo: 09:16 – What was it like in those early days, that first six months of being open?

Jonathan: 09:21 – Yes, it was tough. We opened our first space was this little gas station. It used to be an old gas station.

New Speaker: 09:33 – Oh really? Tell me about that. Tell me about the space.

Jonathan: 09:35 – Yeah, it was like, I think it was maybe like 800 square feet, and it was like two bay doors, where, you know, cars would pull in and they’d fix them in there as well as they had the old pumps out there as well too, with the big awning over it. I spent about a month just renovating the space all by myself and I had no idea what I was doing. No construction experience, painting, you know, all that good stuff.

Mateo: 10:01 – Was it still, like when you got it, was it still being operated as a gas station or had it been something else for a while?

Jonathan: 10:08 – No, it was just sitting vacant for a while. And so painted it, spruced it up and everything and then literally, you know, announced, hey, we’re opening the gym, you know, next week, put it on Facebook and, you know, here’s our class times. And I was sitting up there at 5:30 in the morning on day one just waiting, hoping somebody would show up, hoping and praying. And that was about the first six months was, you know, hoping and praying that somebody would show up that day to work out with us and we could, you know, be able to help them. But interestingly enough, it’s funny, the night before we opened, one of our coaches, right, one of our coaches today, he was our first client. So he emailed us the night before and was like, hey, what’s this CrossFit thing I heard you guys are doing at the gas station?

Jonathan: 10:57 – And I was like, oh, come tomorrow, come tomorrow at 4:30 in the evening and I’ll show ya. So, yeah, it’s cool to look back on those early days and see, you know, how we’ve evolved and how we’ve grown and now having that client, our day one client, you know, as part of our coaching staff is pretty cool to see that evolution as well. But, but yeah, we had plenty of workouts where we outgrew that little 800-square-foot garage, and then we were doing workouts in the parking lot. People were driving by us like we were crazy. And so, you know, after that we found a little bit bigger space, the current space right now, and we’ve kind of slowly grown. But yeah, the early days just sitting and waiting, hoping somebody would show up. Those are, I look back on those and they were tough.

Mateo: 11:46 – But you obviously did grow. I mean you had people where you outgrew the space. So how did you grow back then?

Jonathan: 11:53 – Shoot, I don’t know. A lot of prayer and we just, you know, we just tried to do a really good job. We just tried to treat people the way we wanted to, you know, care about people and show them how we can help them and help them well. And they told their friends, thankfully, and you know, it just slowly, one person after the next, you know, came through the doors and, you know, we made it work. So, yeah, definitely I think prayer definitely was a big part of that though.

Mateo: 12:24 – Awesome. So what was it like moving into the bigger space?

Jonathan: 12:29 – Yeah, that was pretty interesting too. So we’ve got about 5,000 square foot now. But it’s the current space we’re in now, but when we first moved in we didn’t occupy the entire space, so we actually were just like, hey, we can only afford, you know, this corner of the building, can we just rent this corner? And then when we grow we can kind of expand into more space. And so, you know, I think that was fortunate that we were allowed to do that, we were able to do that, because we didn’t have to pick up and move somewhere else, you know, again. And so I was confident that we were going to grow with kind of the way things were going, but I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew. And so I think, you know, just being smart with how we were growing and kind of organically, you know, growing not only our space, but you know, equipment and things like that as our membership grew, you know, kind of helped us slowly build out, you know, and grow into what we are today.

Mateo: 13:29 – So it sounds like you were able to grow organically. This was four years ago, the CrossFit name was still, I think, you know, there was a lot of value—it was still new, so people, if you Googled it and you were the only one in town, you are going to be the only one that popped up. So I think that probably definitely helped. What was then the catalyst for signing up for mentorship?

Jonathan: 13:54 – I probably would say the biggest catalyst would be our son. So my wife became pregnant, was pregnant and we wanted to start a family and I was coaching all the classes, wearing all the hats, doing all the things, and we had had some success, but, you know, I was doing everything. And I enjoyed it, I enjoy coaching. I enjoy doing those things. It was, you know, it was fun watching the gym grow, but I knew, you know, for our family goals and what we wanted to do as a family, that we needed to legitimize our business and we needed to be able to hire coaches and, you know, really step up our game. And, yeah, it’s funny, like, you know, anything in life, our family or, you know, marriage goals and things like that.

Jonathan: 14:51 – You know, we look towards mentors or try to look towards people that we want to emulate and things like that. And you know, for business it just made sense, it was like, hey, like I need a business mentor. I need somebody that’s, you know, doing the things I want to do or, you know, is where I want to be down the road. And I need somebody to show me how to get there. Because I felt like, I think at the time I had kind of maxed out my capacity and I was kinda like, man, I’ve done everything I feel like I know how to do, you know, I don’t really know what’s next or how to get over this hurdle into this next step where I can, you know, be with my family more and spend more time with them.

Jonathan: 15:31 – And that was probably the biggest goal that really pushed me towards mentorship and Two-Brain, and looking for help and guidance with that.

Mateo: 15:39- And when was this?

Jonathan: 15:41 – This was in January of this year. So actually our son was born last October. And so after he was born, we kinda settled into everything in January, signed up for the Incubator. And so yeah, I signed for the Incubator, and went through the Incubator and then after the Incubator, I think there was like, all right, you know, you can jump into Two-Brain Marketing and turn the marketing on. And I was like, hold on, wait a second. Like, I don’t think I’m ready.

Mateo: 16:09 – Why didn’t you think you were ready?

Jonathan: 16:12 – I was still wearing all the hats at that point. I had gone through the Incubator, you know, I was trying to, you know, implement all the things in the Incubator and really transform my business and, you know, really put all the processes and the infrastructure to be able to sustain growth, to be able to, you know, bring in new people and be able to sustain that for a long time.

Jonathan: 16:35 – And so I remember I hopped on the first call, the first marketing call, and I was just like, hey, I don’t think I’m ready. You know, I guess I’m still trying to catch up on the Incubator, I’m still trying to, you know, get all these other things in place. And I was like, I think I want to revisit this, you know, once I’m ready. And so I think that was a good thing I did that, for sure. But yeah. But now after we’ve turned on, you know, our ads and things like that, it’s been, it’s definitely helped a lot. You know, it helped us grow and really level up our business even to another level.

Mateo: 17:07 – So what were the pieces that were missing that you felt after the Incubator you still needed to put in? Was it staffing? Was it just the way in which you wanted to onboard people, what was the missing piece?

Chris: 17:17 – Hello my friends. It is Chris Cooper here. Since 2009 I have been writing daily blog posts, producing podcasts, videos, all kinds of stuff on social media with one mission in mind: to make gyms profitable. I came to that mission because I was an unprofitable gym owner. It almost ruined my finances and almost ruined my career, my marriage, everything. And since that day, since I made my recovery, I have wanted to help other gym owners become profitable, too. It’s part of my mission to the world because if you’re profitable, you’ll be here changing lives of thousands of your clients for the next 30 years. I think together we can have a tremendous impact. When we started mentorship, I did every single call myself. I was doing up to a thousand free calls a year and I was doing 10 calls with people who signed up for our early mentorship program, but the Incubator has been updated and improved a dozen times since then. Now the Incubator is really the sum of all of our experiences with over 800 gyms worldwide. In the Two-Brain mentorship program, we can now learn from everybody. We can collate data, we can see what’s working where and when and what the new gold standards are as they emerge. When somebody has a great idea, we can test it objectively and say, “Will this work for everyone or will it work for people on the West Coast or on the East Coast?” We can do that with little things like Facebook ads. We can also do that with operations and opening times and playbooks. All the questions that you have about the gym, we can answer them with data and with proof now. That’s the Incubator. It’s more than what I wrote about. It’s more than my experience. It is the best standard in the fitness industry, period. And I hope to see you in there.

Jonathan: 18:59 – I think both of those things that you mentioned. I think staffing was obviously a big one. I think I only had one or two coaches then and really none of them, you know, were doing a lot of personal training. I was doing kind of all the onboarding where they were coaching group classes. We were still growing organically pretty well and almost kind of like, as much as I couldn’t keep up with just with myself doing that. And so that was where I was kinda like, I don’t know if I can handle, you know, an influx of new members right now when we’re already kind of growing still organically at this point. And so yes, staffing was definitely the biggest one. And then just trying to iron out, you know, our onboarding process and make sure our retention, you know, was, you know, where we needed it to be where we’re keeping our current numbers and kind of, you know, the client journey and all that. So, yeah, I think that was probably the biggest thing that was kind of holding me back. I think I was maybe just a little bit scared, too. I was like, OK, I dunno what I’m getting myself into. So, I think I just needed a little bit of confidence, too, that I could handle it.

Mateo: 20:07 – You mentioned you have you know, your first client ever ended up being one of your staff members. And I know you also mentioned before we hopped on, we were talking about the name change, Townie: a Fitness Community, like that’s what we are, a fitness community, you know, what is your philosophy on the culture of your gym that, you know, enable—there’s something to be said where you have someone who from day one was so in love with what you’re doing, who then wanted to like take an active role and participate in your staff to take an active role in what you’re doing. So, you know, what is the, you know, the philosophy, the culture at your gym that you think maybe played a part in this person who became an actual staff member?

Jonathan: 20:54 – Yeah, yeah. That’s a great question. You know, community is a word that’s thrown around quite a bit in CrossFit and things like that, but, you know, I really, you know, feel like what we do and our members, you know, really feel a sense of community and a real close-knit bond with each other. And we really try to encourage that with, you know, things that we do in the classes on a daily basis. You know, the way that our coaches, you know, we train them to, you know, treat our members on a daily basis, the way that we train our members to treat each other. And sure, we’ve had, you know, tons of ups and downs and bumps in the road and things we’ve had to deal with with that, you know, through kind of our journey.

Jonathan: 21:39 – And I think that’s helped us learn, you know, the culture that we want and the people that we want. Not only on our staff, but you know, also in our membership, you know, in our gym on a daily basis. And as we kind of, you know, have taught them how we want to treat each other, how we treat our members, you know, it’s really, I think impacted the way that people from outside our gym view our gym, too. And so we try to put that out on social media and things like that. You know, that I think Chris, like we steal some of the stuff from Chris, like the happy gym, you know, like, hey, like, you know, we’re happy. You know, we support each other, we encourage each other.

Jonathan: 22:21 – We’re really big on that. Every day before, you know, we start a workout, our coaches tell all of our members to fist bump each other. And so everybody in our gym goes around and gives each other a fist bump. There’s just some small things culture-wise that we’ve tried to promote and to get people to, you know, realize that hey, it’s not just you working out with your headphones on by yourself. Like, you know, we are a community here to support each other and, you know, we want to build each other up and not tear each other down, be overly competitive and all that. So, you know, that’s really helped a lot. And now that we’ve got, you know, people that understand our culture and not just our coaches, but our members as well, it only attracts more people like that, you know, and through affinity marketing and, you know, bringing their friends in and they see that, you know, from the get-go that, you know, this is how we do things here and this is what we’re all about.

Mateo: 23:13 – So then in your words, what is it that you guys sell? And how do you sell it?

Jonathan: 23:18 – We sell fitness. I mean, we sell, you know, we sell happiness and we sell confidence, I think, you know, and so know those are the main things that, you know, I usually hear when people come to the gym and you know, talk about, you know, what they want to achieve. You know, usually they say weight loss or this, that and the other. But most of it has to do with, you know, happiness, fitness, and confidence, really. And so, you know, that goes far beyond, you know, just working out and losing weight and those things, you know, that goes a lot into, you know, just how you make people feel. And so, you know, from our coaches to our members, you know, we really emphasize making people feel like they’re valuable, you know, like they’re worth it and like they’re awesome. You know, every time they come in the gym, you know, from the moment they walk in the gym to the moment they leave, even when they’re outside the gym.

Mateo: 24:10 – That’s awesome, man. Speaking of what do you sell, let’s talk about when you did finally transition over to the paid advertising. I know you worked with Sarah. How’d it go? What were some of the results?

Jonathan: 24:24 – Well, the results were kind of crazy. It was definitely a wild month as soon as we turned on the ads, started getting leads in and people booking No-Sweat Intros. And so yeah, we spent, our first month in October, we turned our ads on mid-October and we spent about $286. And we brought in over $5,000 in front-end revenue in October. And so, yeah, it was a big kind of a shock when we started seeing all these intros come in and my schedule was quickly booked up. It was cool though. Definitely, I really learned to enjoy kind of the marketing process and the sales process because I think, you know, Two-Brain has helped a ton, you know, with me, you know, and my mindset towards sales, and you know, really how we need to sell our services to survive and to be able to help people.

Jonathan: 25:24 – And so that mindset shift has helped me hugely. And then, you know, with this big influx of, you know, No-Sweat Intros and meeting with people and talking with them about their goals, I think that mindset shift really helped me, you know, be able to help people, you know, through sales. And so I really began to enjoy being able to practice those skills during those free intros. And that helped me a lot, you know, I think, and really understanding the value of what we’re doing and also, you know, develop my skills and being able to tell people better and guide them towards how we can help them. Yeah, it was crazy for sure.

Mateo: 26:07 – What about November? We just started November.

Jonathan: 26:10 – Yes. Just started November. So we had to turn our ads down, just cause we were having trouble kind of keeping up with everything and trying to make sure we had everything in place to be able to take care of all these new members. We spent $44 and 71 cents this month and we brought in $1,380 this month in November in front-end revenue.

Mateo: 26:32 – That’s amazing, man. And what was the resistance or the attitude towards selling before the Incubator and before the marketing piece? Because a lot of people have that, right? A lot of gym owners, especially if they start the—like it’s their first business or they’re starting themselves after being like a coach for a while. You know, how would you describe the resistance that you had?

Jonathan: 26:55 – Yeah, well I think, I think Coop describes it well as like, you know, like the slimy salesman, you know, I think that’s what people think of when you think of, you know, the slimy salesman. And you know, when you shift that mindset to, you know, helping people and just hey, you know, guiding them to the best option to truly help them. And like I said at the beginning, you know, like that’s why I opened the gym, you know, that’s why we got into this business was to genuinely help people and you know, just being able to guide them to the best option, you know, to help them the best, you know—if we’re not doing that, we’re doing them a disservice. And so that mindset shift I think has helped me immensely. And then also I think just realizing that, hey, we can’t help everyone. And I know, you know, at the beginning, you know, when we first opened our business, you’re just like, I want to help everybody, you know, so you end up giving discounts here and free memberships here.

Mateo: 27:53 – Everyone come work out for free.

Jonathan: 27:56 – Yeah, exactly. And that natural, you know, desire to be able to help people in us is great, but you know, there’s a price tag with that, you know, and to be able to support, you know, what we’re doing and you know, and build a sustainable business and pay my coaches, you know, we have to, here’s just the price tag. And, so yeah, and I think it gave me a lot of confidence too in what we’re selling and what we’re doing. And I know that we can help people and I know that this is the best way that we can help people. And so I think, you know, and the adding value piece, I know Coop has talked about that a lot with, you know, not necessarily, you know, trying to like bring your price down or price to whatever you’re offering, but you know, here’s a price. What can we give that person, you know, that is that valuable. And so that’s really what we’ve tried to do with, you know, the things that we offer people, is try to provide as much value as possible. And so, you know, I’m really confident in that now and I think Two-Brain has really helped give me the confidence in what we’re doing with people and how we’re helping them.

Mateo: 29:08 – I want to take a step back. You mentioned when you first did the Incubator it took you a while to put some of the things into place, but what was the first real shift you saw, and the first big change? Cause it sounds like it was you and maybe someone else or I don’t know if you had other staff in the beginning, and then now it sounds like you have a little bit more staff and more growth. So what was the really first big change you saw going through mentorship?

Jonathan: 29:33 – Yeah, I was just myself that went through the Incubator. I think maybe the first big shift, I mean, I think just getting the playbook, the standard operating procedures, like in writing, you know, writing down—I had just some rough things. Like, hey, this is, you know, how group classes should run. But, you know, I really didn’t have it laid out in detail of exactly what the coaches should do and expected them. And so when we hired our first coach, you know, I found myself, you know, being like, oh, why aren’t they doing it like this? You know, why aren’t they doing, you know, the way I do it, you know, what is wrong with them? You know? And really I hadn’t told them exactly how I wanted them to do things.

Jonathan: 30:17 – And so, you know, writing all those things down, writing all those SOPs down, putting them in a playbook, and you know, all of our passwords, you know, operating procedures, the closing, opening, just all those things I think were just really helpful in really training my staff and coaches and really giving them the expectations that I had for them. And then not, you know, feeling like I was just like frustrating myself all the time cause things weren’t being done how I wanted them to, but I never taught them how to do them the right way in the first place.

Mateo: 30:51 – Awesome. And so what was the process like for you once you got, like all these leads coming in? What happened when someone opted in and booked an appointment? What happened after that point for you guys?

Jonathan: 31:03 – So once someone books an appointment or a free intro, I would always try to follow up with at least a text message. So that was pretty helpful. I did run into at the beginning where, you know, people would no-show or you know, schedule an appointment and I’d be waiting there to meet them and I’d be like, oh, where are they? But, following up with a text message right away or a phone call right away, you know, hey, you know, saw you booked a free intro. Can’t wait to meet you. I’m Jonathan, introducing them and I think—or introducing myself, I think putting that like personal like me behind the phone or me like, hey, I’m Jonathan, I’m going to be here waiting for you, meeting with you when you come in really helped a lot once I started doing that to get people to show up to those appointments.

Jonathan: 31:52 – And so I saw a huge jump in people showing up for their appointment doing that, and then also sending them like a text reminder the day of their appointment and saying, hey, you know, we’re here. We’ve got your appointment scheduled, you know, text me back hey just to confirm that you’re going to be here too. So that helped. And let me know if you need to reschedule. So that personal touch point helped a lot. So that was kind of the communication before they would come and sit down with us. Once they come in and sit down, we chat with them, you know, get to know them a little bit better. And that process I really enjoy just to really get to know people and hear about, you know, why are they here, you know, what do they want, you know, what are their goals?

Jonathan: 32:32 – And I truly enjoy talking with people about that. And then, you know, put them on the InBody, which is great. We got an InBody recently, which I think really helped us with, especially our nutrition, because all of our new packages that we have been selling with our six-week challenge through the marketing, like 90% of them signed up with nutrition, which was huge. So I think, you know, the InBody and utilizing that and explaining to them how important nutrition was going to be to their, you know, to their success, I think really helped guide them to the best option for them. And then, you know, hopefully sign them up from there and get them rocking, you know, within 24 hours ideally. But yeah, that’s kind of the intro process.

Mateo: 33:20 – I like the use of the InBody, especially if you’re gonna try and up the front-end offer ticket price with the nutrition. I think that’s really critical. That’s awesome, man. We’re coming up on the end of time here, but it sounds like you’ve had, you know, a lot of growth, especially in this year and that you’ve come a long way, from starting off in the first gas-station gym. You know, what do you attribute to your growth and your success so far?

Jonathan: 33:49 – I honestly, I think mentorship. I think having a mentor. I think not only having, you know, a mentor, but having just the Facebook group, the Two-Brain Facebook group I think has been immensely helpful. But more of a community of gyms that are, I mean literally at the tip of the sphere, you know, doing it, practicing the best practices in the gym, fitness industry, and being able to learn and see, you know, how the best gyms in the world are doing things and then try to implement those in my gym. So the mentorship and then just the community of other gyms that are, you know, doing the best things for their clients on a daily basis. And then trying to implement as many of those things as I can our gym, I think has been the key to, you know, our growth and to taking our business to the next level.

Jonathan: 34:49 – Got a long way to go, but, you know, just the Two-Brain group and the mentorship has been really, I think the key. I don’t think I would have a gym right now anymore. We’ve got another kid on the way in January, so I don’t think we would have a gym anymore. I think I would have probably tapped out if I did not, you know, join Two-Brain back in January. And now I can really see a path to where, you know, I can create a successful and sustainable business, that supports not only me and my family, but you know, coaches in the future. And hopefully, you know, full-time coaches and you know, be an asset to my family. And so that’s kind of my goal.

Mateo: 35:41 – That’s awesome man. Congrats again on another newborn on the way. If people want to find ya, talk to ya, go and hit you up, you know, down South, how can they find you?

Jonathan: 35:54 – Well, our gym Instagram is @towniefitnessco. Usually that’s probably where you can reach me, I’m not on my personal Instagram that often. But that’s usually the space where you could reach me or our gym. I’m on Facebook, Jonathan Watt on Facebook. I check Facebook occasionally. But the gram is where it’s at. So usually on the gram, so @towniefitnessco, come check us out and yeah.

Mateo: 36:24 – Awesome man. Thank you. We’ll talk to you later.

Jonathan: 36:28 – All right, thanks.

Mateo: 36:30 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


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Two-Brain Coaching: The Second-Degree Course With Josh Martin

Two-Brain Coaching: The Second-Degree Course With Josh Martin

Greg: 00:02 – Hey everyone, it’s Greg Strauch of Two-Brain Media, and on this week’s episode I talked to Josh Martin. Josh Martin is a mentor within Two-Brain but has created an amazing product and service for everyone out there that isn’t just within Two-Brain and that is Two-Brain Coaching. On this week’s episode we talk about methods versus principles. We talk about the different variables a coach is facing and has to manage when they’re coaching either one on one or a group class and different styles of it. We also talk about what is available right now for any gym owner or any coach out there that wants to jump into this training for Two-Brain Coaching. And we talk about the benefits. We need to talk about the benefits not only of the gym owner, the coach, but really what can be protected by going through this certification. Subscribe Two-Brain Radio to hear the very best ideas, tips and topics to move you and your business closer to wealth. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

Chris: 01:13 – What makes a good gym website? The answer to that question keeps changing. Five years ago I would’ve said that you need this rotating banner image. Three years ago I would’ve said you have to have one splash page highlighting the benefits of your service. That’s true. The problem is that the benefits of your service change by the client you’re trying to target and so you need to be able to adapt. You need to be able to add your own landing pages. Your main cover page should reflect what your most important clients want. That’s going to be different from what my most important clients want. So a website that’s based on a template with the same kind of rotating image is not going to work anymore. I use For Time Design for the and Catalyst gym websites because those are the most important websites I own. I want responsive design that’s going to work well on mobile. About 60% of your clients are going to come through mobile and more in the future. I want a responsive designer, which means I can contact them to make changes and I want to know how to change my own oil. I want to know how to get in there and add my own posts. I talk a lot about content marketing and that means I have to know the medium through which I’m delivering my content. Using For Time Design has been my choice now for about three years because Theresa and her team are super responsive. She can answer questions for me, she can show me how to do it myself if I want to or she can do it for me if I don’t have time. She’s created a big series of videos for Two-Brain clients in our Incubator and Growth stages to watch so that they can do stuff like build landing pages themselves. A lot of website companies try to pull the curtain in front of their knowledge. They try to hold a lot of stuff secret so that they can charge you to do the basic things. Just like in car maintenance, changing your oil, rotating your tires. If you want to do that stuff, awesome. If you don’t have time to do that stuff, take it to the garage. Theresa at For Time Design gives you both options and she’ll even teach you how to do it yourself if you want to. I use that’s what’s made them an official Two-Brain partner is our firm belief in their commitment to helping first and a strong sense of service value.

Greg: 03:27 – All right, I’m on another amazing episode of Two-Brain Radio with Josh Martin. He is an amazing mentor. On top of that, he’s created a very, I mean amazing program but really unique program that I think a lot of gym owners can benefit from. And you guys have heard about this before of the Two-Brain Coaching. So I love having him back on here because he’s got more and more stuff for you guys. So Josh, welcome.

Josh: 03:51 – Thanks Greg. It is a pleasure to be here as always. I’m glad that you invited me back.

Greg: 03:57 – Happy to. So let’s kinda dig into this and before we jump into, hey, here’s the new services that that Two-Brain Coaching offers and the other stuff within Two-Brain Coaching, let’s kind of dive into a few different things and when it comes to our principles and methods of how we go about coaching. It seems like a lot of us are very heavy on the methods compared to like principles of coaching. So more of like, how do we do things. And can we dive into that a little bit? What’s the reasons why we dive so much more into the method compared to the principles of coaching?

Josh: 04:43 – Well, I’m so glad that you want to start with this, man. It’s a topic that really formed the foundation for, you know, building Two-Brain Coaching. And you know, there is a stark difference between methods and principles. And I’ll quickly, you know, give you my definition between these two. So, methods are something that—how you do something with a client. So I’ll give you an example. Most of the people that are probably listening to this are CrossFit gym owners. CrossFit is a methodology. Some of you guys within your CrossFit gym, maybe you follow something like the Conjugate Method, that is also a methodology. Similarly, kettlebell training, Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics training, sprinting. All of these things are methods. So that is how you train a client. And I think that the reason that methods are so popular and people gravitate to them so much so is that you can put a label and a brand and kind of a culture around a method.

Josh: 05:53 – But a principle is something that is always going to stand the test of time. And this is why within Two-Brain Coaching, we kind of say that we are method agnostic. So the goal is not to teach you that this is the one way that you can get your clients to their goals. Really the goal is to teach principles that allow you, the coach, to effectively apply any method and methodology of your choosing to help your clients achieve their goals. You know, so I’ll give you a for instance. Some universal principles that I think that we can all agree on with regards to coaching is that clients should be assessed before any training takes place. Nutrition is going to be a vital component to getting somebody the results that they desire, and recovery. That’s something that is an often overlooked aspect of, you know, getting somebody to their healthiest or fittest state. Does that kind of lay the groundwork for what we mean when we talk about principles versus methods?

Greg: 06:57 – I think so. And I think, I mean, those are three very big truths within the fitness or exercise realm or just performance-based. All of those things are definitely things that need to be accomplished. I completely understand the difference between those methods and principles, and working with a methodology compared to working on the principles. What would you say the principles of Two-Brain Coaching are that you work with clients through?

Josh: 07:26 – Yeah, so there’s five of them and we really go break them down into extreme detail on the website. But I’ll just give you the CliffsNotes version right now. So principle number one is we want you to enjoy the process. So we believe that, you know, if you’re a coach or really anything that you’re doing in life, you deserve to enjoy what you do. But in this case we’re talking about coaching fitness. So principle number one is that you need to enjoy the process. And the way that we kind of take people through getting to that enjoyment of the process is by focusing on three things: focus, effort and time. And I won’t define those further, but that’s part of principle number one. Number two is where we get into, like I mentioned earlier, you know, a universal principle that we can all agree on is assessing a client.

Josh: 08:19 – But principle number two within Two-Brain Coaching just goes a little bit further. And so we’re going to say that it is you should learn, design, deliver and refine. So you should learn about your clients. So learn is listen, empathize, ask questions, reflect, and then give them next steps. Design is where you’re actually, you know, writing out a training plan for them after you’ve established some baseline metrics. Delivery of your actual service is it can be done in person or digitally. If we’re doing it in person, are you going to do it one on one or in a group? And then finally refined is, you know, if you’re a member of the Two-Brain family, you would kind of recognize this as, you know, goal-setting sessions or athlete check-ins. You know, every 90 days or some gyms, maybe they do it every 60 days.

Josh: 09:10 – So principle two is learn, design, deliver and refine. Number three is we want you to sleep, eat, move and manage. And what we mean by manage is your stress. So within each of those, we want you to do them often and we want you to do them well. So we want you to sleep often and sleep well, move often and move well. So on and so forth. Principle number four is empower through education. So in Two-Brain Coaching, we’re actually gonna do this in two distinct ways. We’re going to deliver depth and breadth. So we might do a deep dive into a topic, and then we’re also going to teach you a lot of different topics. So we’re going to expand the breadth of your knowledge. So number four is in power through education. And then number five, this is without a doubt my favorite principle as a matter of fact, we just had some shirts printed up with this on it. And that is that everything is everything. And so this one is something I remember kind of putting the pieces together on several years ago. When you’ve been coaching long enough, you really begin to understand that variables of a client’s life that really don’t seem to have any relation to one another, not only do they relate very closely to what the client is going to achieve or not achieve, but they really kind of help inform you on the decisions that you make as a coach because you realize that everything is interconnected. So everything is everything is is where you truly start to see the interconnectedness of everything under the umbrella of coaching a client. So it’s not about movement, it’s not about nutrition or psychology, handshakes and high fives. It’s not even about having fun and achieving goals. It’s about all of that stuff all the time. So that fifth and final principle of ours at Two-Brain Coaching is everything is everything.

Greg: 11:26 – I love it. I feel like those five principles, I mean you’re teaching people more than just becoming a coach. You are teaching them more of principles that are life principles really, that throughout this process—now of course you take it, it sounds like and put it into a micro standpoint of coaching. But from a macro standpoint, all of these things are definitely lessons or principles that people can follow outside of just coaching.

Josh: 11:54 – Exactly. You know, I think that’s a great point to make, Greg, is that yes, we are applying it in the coaching sense. So like in our course when you actually get into it, yeah, we do talk about anatomy and physiology and the psychology of physical activity and group interactions in the fitness space. But universally, if you were to zoom out even further, you know, this is something that, you know, everybody can utilize in whatever avenue of life that they’re in.

Greg: 12:24 – Now, as a coach, we are managing, I mean many different variables, right? If somebody comes in late, if we’re going through the class structure and maybe we had a morning class that said, hey, we went over and it wasn’t structured as much as it should be. But really there’s two variables that we need to seem to manage as a coach overall. What are those two variables?

Josh: 12:53 – So there are so many moving parts when it comes to running a really, really good session, delivering the best hour of the day to your clients. But it boils down to two different things. Number one, you’re managing the lesson. So what is the actual work that is inside the session that you are taking your client or clients through? And then the second variable is that audience, you know, and for each of those there’s two options. On the lesson front, you can either have a fixed lesson. So a great example of this is your on-ramp curriculum or your foundations or fundamentals. So a lot of CrossFit gyms instead of, you know, throwing people into the group training and saying, hey, hope you know how to swim, you know, we’ll take them through an on-ramp process. So we’re going to meet them where they are and teach them the things that they need to know to feel comfortable and competent when they do get into the group.

Josh: 13:52 – So this is a session template or a lesson plan that is really not going to change from one client to the next. And so this is what we would call a fixed lesson. A variable lesson would be that you, the coach, are writing a whole training session that is client dependent. So you’re writing it specifically for them or specifically for a particular audience. So you can have a fixed lesson plan or a variable lesson plan, and then the audience is going to be that second variable that you have to manage. So as a beginning coach, I don’t want you to have to worry about 12 different people. I want you to be really good at achieving results for one client. So you can have a fixed audience of one or if you offer group fitness classes, you know, I know we’re using CrossFit, but it could be any, it could be Zumba, it could be pilates, some sort of boot camp or HIIT class, but your audience can be that fixed audience of one or a fixed audience of what I like to say in the course is more than one. So as soon as you have two people, it becomes a completely different ball game than just focusing on one, because now your attention is spread. I would say probably in most CrossFit gyms, you know, you’re going to have anywhere from eight to 12 people. I actually took a poll of a couple of hundred gym owners earlier this year to ask them what their average group class size is. And the vast majority of people said about 10 to 12 people was their average class size.

Greg: 15:31 – Well, and it’s funny that you bring this up because I mean, on this podcast, I’m always trying to be fully transparent. I’m always trying to say exactly what’s going on and never give anybody kind of BS or say, hey, I do this when I really don’t or anything. I would never do that. I wanna make sure that people understand that. But with the way you’re bringing it to my attention, like I’m even currently, we are training coaches to be coaches, but we’re doing it completely backwards. And it sounds like the way what you’re saying is kind of like the scalability, or really like how CrossFit brings up we gotta have consistency. So the first movement has to look like the hundredth movement before we can start adding intensity to it.

Josh: 16:14 – Absolutely.

Greg: 16:15 – And that’s what it kinda sounds like to me of what you’re saying, which like for me, we train coaches to start group coaching and coaching group classes and I can see how that could be completely wrong, even. I would even go as far as that, because with what you’re saying here, it’s, hey, why don’t we take on one person, a very fixed lesson plan, so for me that would probably be my on-ramp and it’s only one person. And then from there, slowly building up and building up, like you say, to kind of build up over time and get that coach more aware because if I turn around and throw somebody into a 12-person class, really am I even doing a service that is what we at CFUE say is amazing and above that even to 12 people, if it’s a brand new coach that hasn’t even worked with one person and doing a great job with the experience for that one person?

Josh: 17:12 – Yeah, man, you’re exactly right. And, you know, this is definitely not the way that we always trained our coaches, you know, back in the day either. I can remember the first time that I at my particular gym had to bring somebody on to start taking over some of the coaching that I was doing as we were growing. It was a necessity and, you know, yeah, we just kind of, for lack of a better term, threw people in, you know, to the fire, so to speak. And you quickly figure out that that doesn’t work. And then you say, OK, first we’re gonna, you know, have you shadow and you’re gonna shadow some arbitrary amount of hours before I feel like that you are completely competent as a coach and at my level. And then we’re gonna, you know, throw you back to all the wolves.

Josh: 17:59 – And you know, of course over the years it’s been refined, but I’m a firm believer that you are really setting your coach up either to not optimize their development or really just kind of stunt their development as a coach. The goal, just like you have for a client whenever they first join your gym, is the same as you should have for a new coach that is going to be joining your staff. The goal is to build confidence over time. And the only way that you do that is by layering on complexity over time. So you don’t want to throw them into you know, a situation where they’re not only dealing with a variable lesson and a variable audience, you want to start with the simplest approach possible. Teach them this one thing to this one person. They build confidence, they feel competent, they know that what they’re doing is right because they can see that one client in front of them getting results and getting better.

Josh: 18:59 – If you just throw them to the wolves and say, OK, well they’ve shadowed, now we’re going to put you in front, you know, on basically what I like to call the stage, as you’re coaching in front of a group, you’re on the stage, 10 or 12 people, you’re, I mean, you’re really putting basically the fate of those 10 or 12 people on that one coach. And I just no longer think that that is the right approach anymore because I’ve seen it so many times, and this is a much better way, and you know, from a left-brain logical standpoint, it just makes sense, man.

Greg: 19:38 – Josh, I am gonna let you know, I have to basically—all the time I’ve invested into my advanced theory course and my internship process is now going to basically be thrown out the window and rewrite all of it because, and all the time and effort and money that’s gone into it because, for me, I believe in this 100%. It makes complete sense. Especially, I mean, if you’re a CrossFit gym owner, you totally understand. Making sure that first squat is correct and then making sure can they do it again even without increasing that intensity yet. Or I mean complex, being more complex and having more variability in it. So, uh, thank you. Not thank you, but thank you; I’m going to have to go back and redo all of this.

Josh: 20:24 – Or you could just sign up for Two-Brain Coaching, man.

Greg: 20:28 – Exactly. Which actually right after this break we’re going to get back with Josh and we’re going to talk about what are the current available things that we can do at Two-Brain Coaching to level up your staff or someone new coming on. So we’ll be back with Josh right after this.

Chris: 20:42 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper. If you’ve ever run out of money, you know that it affects every single corner of your life, all of your relationships, your business, even your self-worth. And so when I found a mentor in 2009, I said, I want to share this gift with everyone. Since then, I’ve been building and refining and improving a mentorship practice that we now call Two-Brain Business. We break our mentorship into several stages. The first stage is the Incubator, which is a 12-week sprint to get your foundation built, to get you started on retention and employee programs and finding the best staff, putting them in the best roles, training them up to be successful, and then recruiting more clients. It’s an amazing program. It is the culmination of over a decade of work. It’s also the sum of best practices from over 800 gyms around the world. These aren’t just my ideas anymore. What we do is track with data what’s working for whom and when, and we test new ideas against that data to say, is this actually better? Then when ideas have proven themselves conclusively, then we put it in our Incubator or Growth or Tinker programs. I just wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to define who should be doing what in what stage of entrepreneurship. But no matter where you are, the Incubator is your first 12-week sprint to get as far as possible in your business. We’re a mentorship practice for one reason: Mentorship is what works. We work with gym owners for one reason: Because you have the potential to change the world with us, and I hope you do.

Greg: 22:11 – All right, we are back. So Josh, let’s talk about this. What are the things that are available right now, and we’ve had you on before, we’ve talked about that First Degree of someone coming in and we can talk about that real quick, but then also moving forward, what are those other things?

Josh: 22:30 – Yeah, so we’ve actually got a couple of options right now and I hope I have permission to let the cat out of the bag on this. If not, then maybe I’ll get in trouble, but I doubt it. But so essentially if you’re a current Two-Brain client in the Growth stage right now, you are actually going to be gifted a brand-new master class for training coaches. This is something that I’m putting together for all of our Two-Brain clients. And it would best be described as here’s how you do it, now go and do it for your coaches option. So we’re gonna provide you with the blueprint. We’re going to say this is how you find, hire and train your staff. This is how to build meaningful careers for them. We’re gonna give you the templates, all this kind of stuff. And then basically you are responsible for putting these things into practice. So we’re going to teach you how to do it and then you’re going to do it. So that’s option number one. That’s going to be out very, very soon for current Growth clients. They’re going to have free access to that. So that’s pretty awesome.

Greg: 23:36 – It’s pretty awesome. Now, but what happens if you’re like me, I don’t have time to do that. I don’t have time to turn around and build everything out, possibly. And I really need something that’s more of a done-for-me version, so I can really maximize my EHR, my effective hourly rate.

Josh: 23:56 – Yeah. Greg, it’s funny because that’s exactly, you know, the itch that I had to scratch for myself is that I wanted something that I could implement, put into place and have a done-for-you option. And so that’s actually what is available through right now. It’s a piece of cake. You go to the website, check it out, sign them up, and they are guided from the moment that they sign up until the point that it is time for them to basically show their stuff off for you and coach for you. And yes, there is shadowing broken down. There is homework. They’re going to be turning things in. They’re going to have assignments. There is a lot of work that they’re going to be doing behind the scenes and in your gym, but you are not going to have to be there to micromanage.

Josh: 24:47 – Now, I do realize that some owners don’t want to be completely hands off. They want to know, hey, what are my coaches learning? I want to make sure that, number one, that it’s valuable. And probably most importantly that it aligns with their vision and what they’re looking for from a coach. So what we put together is an owner’s handbook and that’s available for free for anybody that’s interested to learn more. You know, maybe you’re not quite ready to invest the money, you just want to see what they’re gonna be learning, then reach out. We will be more than happy to send you the owner’s handbook so you can take a look at it and see. But if you are ready to sign up, then yeah, go to, but you can navigate your way there. And right now what’s available is the First-Degree program, which takes somebody and preps them to coach your fixed lesson plan, one-on-one, your on-ramp program, put another way, and the Second-Degree course, which preps them to coach any group fitness offering that you have.

Greg: 25:55 – Wait, hold on. I want to backtrack on that for a second. And really that second point that you just made of any fitness program. So you’re telling me that I can put somebody into my Sweat, which is my boot camp. They can go through that Second Degree and be able to take on any of those group classes, including my CrossFit, including, I mean any literally, I mean, any program that I wanted to bring on, dumbbells and diapers or whatever it is, they’d be able to coach any of those classes?

Josh: 26:25 – Yeah. So the goal again, you know, with the principle approach is that we want you to be able to teach any, you know, fitness methodology, group fitness class that you can think of. So if it’s CrossFit, if it’s Zumba, if it’s diapers and dumbbells, if it’s sweat, if it’s a 30-minute quick fit, a 45, a 60-minute thing, yeah, Second Degree will take care of that. And I don’t want to spoil the really good part, but if you’re a gym that already is insured through Affiliate Guard, your coaches are covered if they go through first or Second Degree, they are already covered insurance wise.

Greg: 27:11 – Whoa, that’s definitely huge because as a gym owner, if I have contractors and I’m having them get their own insurance policies or if I’m saying, hey, I’m going to take the burden and say I’m going to cover anybody that trains here, but I gotta make sure my insurance company says, hey, yeah, you can have so and so train here, they usually have to have a certification. So you’re telling me basically that each one of these programs so far, and I know we’re building out more throughout this process, degree one or one degree, First Degree and Second Degree are technically certified through Affiliate Guard to say, hey, yeah, we will cover what, what you guys are doing.

Josh: 27:52 – Yeah, 100% and you know, this is actually really cool man. Affiliate Guard, I was just talking to them recently and let’s say that you’re a gym that isn’t insured through them. That’s OK. You can actually ensure one of your coaches if they have a Two-Brain Coaching certification for roughly 150 bucks for the entire year. 150 bucks for the year and they are covered insurance wise through Affiliate Guard.

Greg: 28:19 – That’s amazing. I mean, that’s pennies. I wish, I wish my insurance policy was that, but it is not. And I will say it’s definitely not expensive for even a big gym insurance plan, but $150 is nothing.

Josh: 28:36 – Yeah. Yeah. They really put together quite a package for us, so we’re super excited to be partnered with them.

Greg: 28:44 – And I wanted to go back to one other thing you said. And that was really what you were talking about, the different options of having First Degree and Second Degree and really the Second Degree portion. And you talked about how it was going to cover basically any fitness program that you have. And that kind of dives back into that first thing we talked about, methods and principles, and that’s where you’re saying the methodology of CrossFit is great, but if you have the methodology of Zumba or the methodology of a boot camp, whatever that’s gonna be, you’ve built this program not around one of those things. You’ve built it around principles so that literally anyone can come through this program from any type of fitness program and still do amazing with it and still be able to utilize all the information.

Josh: 29:30 – Absolutely. Yeah. That was the goal. Because if we just teach to, you know, one methodology, then you are really limited in scope as a coach. You know, like what happens if you’re a Pilates instructor and that is what you learn how to coach and that’s all you know how to coach and three or four or five years down the road you’re like, ah, I really don’t want to do that anymore. OK, well now I’ve gotta go learn how to coach something else and I’ve got to go take this specific course to be able to coach this other thing. With Two-Brain coaching, the principles are universal. So the same things that you would use to get people fit or to get people to their goals and using a Pilates methodology can also be used to do it with a Zumba or a CrossFit or a kettlebell or Olympic weightlifting methodology. The only thing that I would say is that, you know, you might want to go take a course so that you know the ins and outs of that particular methodology, but from a learning how to actually apply it and work with clients and use it to get results, that’s the service, the coaching service that we provide.

Greg: 30:47 – What—I want to talk about two benefits, and one of those is definitely the benefit from an owner standpoint. So myself. But before that, because I do care about my people more than anything, I really do. I care about my coaches, making sure they’re getting training. I’m trying to build out new things for them all the time and I feel like I can never do enough to make sure that I’m giving them the best opportunities out there. But so from an owner’s standpoint, but really from a coach’s standpoint, what is the coach ROI benefit that they’re getting from these programs?

Josh: 31:20 – Man, that’s such a great question, Greg. You know, we thought about this a lot in the development of Two-Brain Coaching and I haven’t seen it out there from anybody else, but it’s really important that if somebody is going to make an investment in something, you know, like the First Degree program or the Second or you know, not to give too much away, but Third and Fourth that will be out before the end of the year, I want the coach to truly understand that if I pay $149 for the First Degree program, you know, what can I expect to get back? You know, how long is it going to take me to make that money back if the coach is the one who buys that. So for the First Degree program, after talking to hundreds of gym owners now for several years based around what their on-ramp cost is and what a coach makes, if a coach gets to do one on-ramp client, so to take them through the gym’s on-ramp process, on average if they just take one person through it, they have now paid back the money that it costs them to go through the First Degree course.

Josh: 32:32 – Then everything that they do after that is just icing on the cake. So one client you take through on-ramp and it’s paid for itself. The Second Degree course, let’s just say that you’re working at a gym and you’re coaching their group classes and you’re paid roughly 20 bucks a class. If you’re coaching five sessions a week, you’re going to have that paid off in about six weeks. So Second Degree course is 599. You’re getting paid 20 bucks a class to coach groups. Guess what? You’re going to have that thing paid off in about six weeks or roughly 30 sessions. Here’s the bonus part that I haven’t told anybody about. We are actually teaching you how to develop and run your own specialty program within the Second Degree course and we’re going to give them—at kind of a surprise point in the course they’re going to unlock access to five specialty course templates that they can use and implement at their gym right away. But if they just coach one specialty program, they’re going to have it paid off in six sessions. So that’s a huge ROI for a coach because I know for myself, when I was starting out, I wanted to know, hey, if I’m investing this much into education, continuing education, you know, what does that look like from a money back in my pocket standpoint? And so that’s what we can say from the coach’s perspective.

Greg: 34:04 – What about, I mean, that’s a huge benefit from a coach standpoint, but now I’m going to say what about me? What about as the business owner, what is the ROI that I’m getting back from this?

Josh: 34:13 – Yeah, so I think this is actually best explained through a story. We’ve got a gym that has sent one of their new coaching prospects through the First Degree course, and I was talking to this gym owner about a month ago and she said, you know, the funniest thing happened, part of the homework that they do in this First Degree course is they’re learning to how to sit down and talk to somebody, you know, kind of in a consultation-type format or what we would say in Two-Brain is like that No-Sweat Intro, but the homework for them is to practice just having these conversations, you know, learning about these prospective kind of play clients and they’re tasked with doing it with friends and family members. And you know, role playing is always a little bit funny and nerve-wracking. And honestly, Greg, as an owner sometimes I’m like, ah, role playing is kind of, you know, useless and I don’t really get a whole lot out of it personally—until I heard this.

Josh: 35:18 – So I was talking to this owner and she said, you’ll never believe what happened. This coach was doing her practice role playing for consultations or No-Sweat Intros. She was doing it with her roommate who was her best friend and apparently she did such a good job that this roommate signed up to be a member at the gym. So you know, and their on-ramp package at their gym was $299. So right then and there, not only did it pay for itself, you know, but the coach is also going to get paid. So $149 to do First Degree. This coach was just practicing some of the homework, sold somebody on an on-ramp package and paid for itself two times over. So from an ownership standpoint, knowing that things like that are occurring, that’s all the ROI that I need to know about.

Josh: 36:10 – Now for the Second Degree, to me what it comes down to is coaching is all about retention. You know, is the basic that it boils down to. If you get results for your clients, they’re going to stick around. If you are a gym owner and you have a coach that has gone through the Second Degree program, if they just get at an average revenue per member of 150 bucks, so if you’ve got four clients that pay 150 bucks, if four clients stay one month longer than they might not have beforehand, it pays for itself.

Greg: 36:47 – Wow. That, I mean, that right there is worth every single penny. I guess my final question, so probably people out there and we’ll wrap it up here, they’re probably asking, OK, there’s First Degree, there’s Second Degree, possibly Third and Fourth and others later on, do I have to have my coach go through First Degree before they can go to Second Degree?

Josh: 37:11 – Yes. And actually there’s a very couple of very good reasons. Number one is that the language that we use in Second Degrees starts in the First Degree and we want that to be consistent throughout. Number two, we are big, humongous believers in having a beginner’s mind, and even if you’re somebody who has been coaching for several years, it is always a great idea to revisit the basics. So First Degree first, Second Degree next; they build on one another. So remember, we go back to what we were talking about towards the very beginning of the podcast is we want to layer on complexity. I don’t want to jump you right into some of the more deeper topics in the Second Degree, even if you’re somebody like me who’s been coaching for you know, almost two decades now. When I was putting together the First Degree program, I was like, oh man, I haven’t thought about things like this, you know, in so long and I learned so much just from my standpoint of putting the course together. So, it is highly valuable for anybody, whether it’s a new coach that you’re thinking about bringing on or somebody that is a head coach. As a refresher of the basics, if I’m an owner, I want a coach who is not afraid to always revisit the basics and you know, refine them over time.

Greg: 38:40 – Agreed. Now if somebody wants to sign up for Two-Brain Coaching, they’re not in Two-Brain, but they’re a gym owner out there that’s like, you know what, I need to get my hands on this. I need to get my coaches in this. I don’t have the time. I don’t have anything built out that I need to be able to do it, can they join it? And what’s the way for them to contact you to be able to jump onto Two-Brain Coaching?

Josh: 39:06 – Yeah, absolutely. So, they can do a couple of different things, if they, you know, are like, yep, I’m sold. I want to just go ahead and sign up right now, they can go to and then you have the two options for First and Second Degree right there. If they are like, ah, I liked what I heard. I want to hear more from Josh himself. You can go to again and then right there on the homepage in the middle, you can’t miss it, is a spot to book a free call. Just a quick little consult for 15 minutes. You and I will talk face to face and I will answer all the questions that you have about the course happily. Or if you’re like, eh, maybe I just want to get some questions answered via email, and you can reach me at

Greg: 39:57 – Awesome, Josh. Thank you again for jumping on. I love always talking to you and having our conversations and stuff like that. I love what you’re doing with Two-Brain Coaching and I can’t wait to see a Third Degree, Fourth Degree and whatever is created after then even. So I’m super excited and I can’t wait to hear what else is going on. But thank you so much for jumping on Two-Brain Radio and sharing Two-Brain Coaching with us.

Josh: 40:21 – My pleasure, Greg. Thanks again for having me, man.

Greg: 40:25 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


Greg Strauch will be here every Thursday with the Two-Brain Radio Podcast.

Two-Brain Marketing episodes come out Mondays, and host Mateo Lopez focuses on sales and digital marketing. 

On Wednesdays, Sean Woodland tells the best stories in the CrossFit community on Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland.

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Two-Brain Radio: The Morning Chalk Up With Justin LoFranco

Two-Brain Radio: The Morning Chalk Up With Justin LoFranco

Sean: 00:05 – Hi everybody. Welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I speak with the founder of the Morning Chalk Up, Justin LoFranco. But first, Chris Cooper is not the fittest person who ever walked the Earth. He has never recorded a world-record snatch. His Fran time is—it’s just OK. But Chris does hold a gym record. He’s written the best-selling fitness business books of all time. Based on his experience as a gym owner and thousands of free calls with other fitness entrepreneurs, Chris put together four books that can help you make money and live the life you want. This isn’t smoke-blowing without substance. These books have helped thousands, and they can help you. Head over to Amazon and check them out. You’re looking for “Two-Brain Business,” “Two-Brain business 2.0,” “Help First” and “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief.” These are best-selling books based on hard data and experience, and they can help you find success. Pick one up on Amazon today.

Sean: 01:13 – Justin LoFranco is the man who started the Morning Chalk Up all by his lonesome in 2016. In the last four years, It has become part of every CrossFitter’s morning ritual and the daily newsletter is emailed out worldwide to 85,000 subscribers. Justin and I talk about how his life working in the U.S. government helped prepare him for his current endeavor, how he was able to build the Morning Chalk Up into its current state and what the future of the site looks like as we get deeper into the 2020 CrossFit Games season. Thanks for listening. Justin, thanks so much for joining me today man. How you doing?

Justin: 01:52 – I’m doing excellent, Sean. Thanks for having me on.

Sean: 01:54 – You bet. A lot of people obviously know you from the Morning Chalk Up, but there’s a whole Justin LoFranco history before you even got to the Morning Chalk Up, what were you doing before you decided to start your current endeavor?

Justin: 02:05 – Yeah, that’s kind of an interesting tale. It started by way of Washington DC working the United States house of Representatives, which is also coincidentally when I found CrossFit for the first time, or rather when I started doing CrossFit. This was end of 2008 when I moved there and I started working in Congress and I was a press aide for a number of years there. And then went onto some campaigns and went onto congressional committee. And just kind of made my way seven years through politics and continued to rise in the ranks of doing that.

Justin: 02:41 – My final job was actually in Madison, Wisconsin, working for the governor when he was running for president in the 2016 campaign. And once that ended and we lost, I decided not to take any new jobs, any new opportunities inside of politics. I took two months and I went to Italy. I worked on a farm, fed animals, you know, lived up in a mountain somewhere and I basically did nothing. And just kind of soul-searched for a little while. Like just kind of a good sabbatical. And then I decided I was going to move home. So I moved in with my parents. I started doing some consulting work to make some money and then got this idea for a newsletter that just would send out, you know, five-to-seven-minute read daily taking all of the things that are happening across this big global community and global sport.

Justin: 03:35 – Put it into a pretty easy-to-read newsletter and spammed a couple hundred people unsuspectingly on day one, I think Rory was in there because I found his email address somewhere, and the rest is history. So kind of a interesting way of getting into it. But you know.

Sean: 03:51 – Let’s go back a second cause there’s so much there I want to talk about, first off, what was it about working in the government that appealed to you?

Justin: 03:58 – Well, so I was a political science student and I had always had a fascination with politics, with process. Just kind of how things get, how the sausage gets made. That’s a phrase we typically throw out in school. And so I was drawn to it. I did an internship my junior year of college and I went out to Washington DC, had a internship in the House of Representatives, my local Congressman, and saw that process, kind of was enamored by it.

Justin: 04:30 – Just really intrigued by this hard-charging mentality. You’re just kind of immersed in this political environment and you’re reading constantly. You’re working constantly, you’re drinking coffee, you’re just kind of like, it’s kind of crazy. It fit my personality really well. And I loved it and I loved the energy and just the, you’re surrounded by these just smart people who are throwing themselves into the muck in these debates and in these issues and stuff. And so I actually came originally wanting to do policy because I loved getting into the minutia. I love just studying individual kind of policy angles and bills and history and how to figure out a way to weave a new piece of legislation through that and figure out a way to make it stick. But press ended up becoming a much better knack for me.

Justin: 05:18 – So I started on the digital side of press. This was in the emergence of Twitter. This was in the emergence of YouTube and Facebook as political tools, as platforms for mass communication. And I began honing my skill in that area, which is probably why I run a digital newsletter and not in print. And that draw was just the energy, you know, I just loved it. I loved that rat race and working your butt off all, you know, day and night. It kind of sang to me. I don’t know.

Sean: 05:46 – What was it that made you decide to leave then after all that experience?

Justin: 05:50 – Well, so seven years in politics is like 14 years in the regular world. So my last jobs, the first meeting of my day started at 6:45 conference call, senior staff. And then my first in-person was at 7:15 in the morning.

Justin: 06:06 – And I never even left the office until seven or eight at night. And that was on a regular basis and I’m sure I didn’t stop working until the time I actually went to sleep. And that happened seven days a week. So just imagine the burnout rate there and it definitely draws a certain kind of person who can, you know, really decide not to do anything else in their life right now. Forego relationships, friendships, you know, you’re married to the campaign. That’s the mentality. And I used to say this thing, you know, every day is Monday and that’s kind of just, you’re never gonna get ahead of the work and it just kind of burns you out a little bit. But it wasn’t that that made me leave. I ultimately still really enjoyed what I was doing, but I wanted to build something that wasn’t for a campaign cycle or for an electoral cycle or for a two-year term for a member of Congress and then go back and go for reelection again.

Justin: 07:04 – I wanted to build something that was a little bit more permanent and watch it grow into maturity. And I’m here looking at almost being four years in now at the end of February. So I’m like two congressional campaign cycles in is basically what I’m at. And now you get to watch this thing grow and that’s super cool. And I wanted to put that time, energy and effort into something long term and not just go back and forth and kind of six months, eight months, nine months, and then let it die. And then you kind of pick it back up in another 18 months when the cycle picks up again. I also really was drawn towards building a business and you don’t go into politics to build business. You go into politics to build politics. And so there was an opportunity for me to do that and I felt like it was the right time to step away.

Sean: 07:50 – How did you find CrossFit?

Justin: 07:51 – 2006, I went to Bible University, a small private Christian school in Los Angeles. My buddy who lived next door, Matt Bandwert, was on the baseball team. He just, you know, we were in the weight room. He was telling us about this hokey little kettlebell swinging club that he was aware of. And this was before the Games. So, you know, he was very early to catch onto it, but he was a Orange County, Southern California dude. And we tried a little bit of it, tried a Helen, terrible, didn’t stick with me back then. It was just, we watched him do it in the gym. We watched him practicing, you know, stringing up his own rings on the pull-up bar so that he could do dips or false-grip muscle-ups from a support position. And he kept doing it. I just kept doing my weightlifting thing, running every now and then. And then in about 2010, I saw photos of him competing at Sectionals and I was like, dude.

Justin: 08:55 – And I was in the House of Representatives at the time, so I was like, you know what, I gotta get back into that. That’s pretty awesome. And I’m training for a marathon and it’d be great additional strength training for my lower legs in the winter months when it’s really hard to run. And you know, you can’t—it’s East Coast, so it’s a 20-degree day. It’s not nice to go running in the dark at 7:00 p.m. in Washington DC when it’s that cold outside. So I was like, this would be great. It gets me off the treadmill and I can do some strength training. So I started doing it on my own, making an absolute mockery of form, and cleans looked like I should no longer be able to use my wrists, I’m sure, if I could go back and look at it today, but I started doing the basics and cherry-picking workouts and being like, OK, I’ve got equipment for this or I have no idea what that is so we’re not going to do that.

Justin: 09:45 – And you know, modifying to how my body felt. It was a lot of burpees in the corner and pull-ups from the pull-up bar and learning to kip by reading the Journal or looking at other athletes doing it in videos and that was where my journey started. It was funny cause it’s just you know, like four floors down under ground and in this little gymnasium in the House of Representatives and that’s where I kicked it off.

Sean: 10:09 – How did that then lead you to come up with the idea for the Morning Chalk Up?

Justin: 10:13 – So, in politics we have these morning newsletters, we call them tip sheets. Basically start the day, they set the tone for what is going to be driving the conversation inside of the, you know, 12 square miles that is Washington, D. C. And one of the most famous ones now is called the Political Playbook, which is something that I read religiously.

Justin: 10:35 – As soon as I get up, 6:37 in the morning, it’s the first thing I read. It takes me probably 20 or 30 minutes to read through it in the morning because it’s pretty lengthy. But it basically condenses all of the major elements that are going to be driving the news conversation today. So Facebook is going to be at this hearing. It’s going to be at 9:00 a.m. You know, here’s some of the implications of that conversation. Here’s some of the advanced testimony that Mark Zuckerberg is going to be delivering in his opening remarks. Here’s some of the legislation up for votes and why that’s significant and why it matters. It really frames this for your political staffer or anybody who’s working on K street, which is like lobbying or issue advocacy. And they kind of can understand that. So there are a number of different ones and I read pretty much all of them and Playbook was the most inspirational for me.

Justin: 11:24 – And I adopted the idea of bringing all of the news together into a single location. You know, you’ve got elite athletes putting PRs or big lifts or other videos out on their social channels. You’ve got individual gyms talking about what’s going on in their community. Fundraising efforts or really positive, great news. Sometimes some bad news and sad news. What’s going on in the Games environment? What kind of dates you should keep in mind, like things that are coming up. Well the Open’s kicking off now or you know, Regionals countdown in two weeks from now and here’s where you can watch it. And giving people a platform where they could access all this information. So the inspiration came from that. It was something I read every day for years, literally years in politics. And I woke up with it. I sometimes went to sleep with it.

Justin: 12:13 – It came out early in the morning and it was simple. It was a lot of hard work with a simple idea and it solved the basic problem in my industry in politics. And I just thought, oh, you know what, it could probably solve a basic problem if someone’s really looking to figure out everything that’s going on today, then, you know, I don’t think there’s anything out there. I looked, there wasn’t. And so I built it.

Sean: 12:35 – At this point you were a man with an idea. How did you then turn that idea into a reality?

Justin: 12:40 – Well, thankfully I had learned how to do a lot of things with no money, no staff or support. And take something from idea into conception into reality by working in politics. You know, in Congress, you have no money. You have no budget, you have no staff, you don’t have professional designers, artists, photographers, if you want to create it for your member of Congress, if you want to create it as a communications tool, you want to get something out on social, you need to figure out how to do it on your own. It really allows you to become like a social-media all-star or whatever. You know, you learn a little bit of graphic design, you learn a lot about how to write and write well, learn how to manage a newsletter, learn how to manage a website and figure out the resources to build that. And I had taken that to hyper drive. And so, really it was because of doing that job that it enabled me to learn a lot of tools and figure out how to do something without seed money.

Justin: 13:43 – I had a little bit of a government pension that I liquidated from my years of working in the House. And so I took that, I paid off any extra bills that I had and I was basically scotch-free at that point. And I took the rest of the money and I poured it into—and the rest of the money’s like 10 grand—over time into Morning Chalk Up, into kind of, OK, you know, we need a new ESP, it’s gonna cost us this amount of money, we’ll do a little bit of Facebook advertising to let people know, kind of a hundred, 200 bucks a month, not very much, you know, oh, here’s some other things that we can buy that are nice to have. And then sort of bootstrapped it. Buy it was that experience of basically having to think without money, take money out of the equation. How do you get the job done, or take what you think you’re going to need to accomplish it and then cut it down to by 90% and then figure out how to get it done. And so it was that training that I had had in a budgetless environment that allowed me to do that. So there were no fancy things; there still really aren’t meaning fancy things. But without that, I wouldn’t have known how to piece together, marshal all of my together to produce a product. And really when it came down to it, the path to success was really simple. To getting it out the door. I took 24 hours, I literally took 24 hours. I use this concept of basically this tech concept of throw it out there and then develop, iterate it over time, just develop it. And so if you can commit to doing the work product every single day, then the design is secondary.

Justin: 15:17 – Get the product out, figure out how to do it before you make it beautiful and perfect. I didn’t have a staff to make it beautiful and perfect and it would take me months to basically get it to the point where it could be launched. So instead I said, look, this is good enough. We’ll get a website landing page so that people can sign up, which looks like trash. We’ll get a web template built and then we will start creating content and then just start creating it and be like, I’m committing myself to three months of writing this thing every single day. And I actually did it seven days a week back then. And then I pared it back to five as a more appropriate workload.

Sean: 15:50 – How did you decide what that content was going to be early on?

Justin: 15:57 – Well, I think you have to take people’s temperature. Like I said, it’s very iterative. So we start with a basic template and tried to figure out buckets like, all right, help people understand what it is you’re trying to tell them. So we had a couple of different buckets that allowed some form to the newsletter. And then I just put on Google news alerts, I started talking to friends, I built a tips email address so that people could send us tips. And then I just started figuring out what people needed to know. Like, what is the most important information for my audience? And once I got to asking that question, I had to say, well, who is my audience? And then I basically developed distinct audience groups that I wanted to cater to every single day. So I had elite athletes and I was like, OK, well what do elite athletes need or want to know on a regular basis?

Justin: 16:51 – Then what about coaches or box owners, what are they curious about and what kind of drives the conversation for them? All right, great. All right. What about other media, people that are writing about CrossFit? So guys like you, Sean. And then obviously any of the other blogs or podcasters out there or video personalities out there, what would they kind of find interesting? So now we’re at three distinct audiences and then, you know, what if you run a company inside of the industry, like a FitAid or RPM or you know, Rogue, what do you want to know about? What kind of things can we put out there that would be industry-related news? Hirings and firings, somebody’s you know, launching a new product. And then the last thing is just average CrossFitters.

Justin: 17:39 – Just people that show up every day, you know, they show up one hour, they get the best hour of their day. They show up, they work hard, they go home. What do they want to see. And so I created those five buckets which are still the exact same five buckets today. And then I was constantly looking for information or ideas or content that was going to help them do their job better or interest them. So, you know, the regular everyday CrossFitter is going to be interested in, you know, some elite athlete-type stuff. But you know, maybe some also product launch stuff that would go to the industries. The coaches might be interested in that as they may want to carry a new FitAid product or beverage product in their gym.

Justin: 18:21 – So that was kind of how I bucketed. And then everything became very simple. Like am I serving the interests of my audience? Am I actually creating content for them that helps them do their job better or that makes them want to come back? And when your open rate gets higher and increases and people stick around for longer and they begin to share it to their friends and your audience retention grows then you know you’re doing the right thing. And we also included some surveys to say, hey, how are we doing? Let us know. Like what kind of stuff would you like to see? What things are we missing? What are we not touching on? So it was really, really very important for me to have created the buckets. Those audiences allowed me to understand—like if you’re just talking to elite athletes, then there’s a whole bunch of other stuff in my newsletter that is not necessary. But we try every single day to get something for all five of those people and make sure that they find value in what we’re delivering.

Sean: 19:13 – We will be back with more from the founder of the Morning Chalk Up, Justin LoFranco after this.

Sean: 19:18 – What if you could click a link and receive a stack of eBooks that would help you reach profitability sooner? Instead of making mistakes, working 12-hour days, missing time with your family and losing sleep, you would be on the path to success. Well, that link exists. It’s Head over there and you’ll get some of our very best resources, totally free. You’ll get “How to Buy a Gym,” “How to Sell a Gym,” “How to Add 10k of Personal-Training Revenue,” “The Broke Gym Owner’s Guide to Marketing,” “How Not to Bankrupt Your Gym” and more all free. Here’s the deal. Two-Brain wants you to make enough money to be able to pay for mentorship. Maybe you’ll work with us, but we’re OK if you don’t. We just want you to have enough cash to pay someone to help you fix your business. So click the link, get the books and sleep easier. It’s

Sean: 20:17 – You mentioned that you just kind of spammed everything out there when you started this, what was the initial reaction to that?

Justin: 20:29 – I’m trying to remember. I think that some people were just like, oh, OK. Like I don’t think anybody had ever seen anything like it before. I took a lot of—what I did is went to like the last couple of the CrossFit Games, and I looked at all the gyms that qualified and then I found a whole bunch of coaches’ email addresses from all those gyms.

Justin: 20:54 – And I was like, they’re probably going to be interested in stuff that we’re talking about at the Games and stuff. And it was originally very Games-focused. It was meant to be like a very elite athlete focus, cause I came from the political world and I’m thinking, OK, you know, what’s driving the conversations, what are all the important people are doing? That ended up not being where we wanted to put our focus long term, but it was how it got started. And so I just kind of found these folks and emailed them and I got a couple—I wish I still had. I’m sure I’d have to dive really, really far back. Well we mostly got good feedback as far as like, oh, this is cool. I never seen this before. And I think it just kind of popped out of nowhere and so people had no idea where it was coming from or who was doing it. I wish I knew though. I’m sure that Rory’s like one of the first and oldest subscribers, Russ Greene, too. So I guess you could ask Russ what he thought of it back then. I don’t remember. I talked to Russ in Georgetown. I had met him through some other political stuff because he moved back to Washington DC and I asked him, hey, what do you think about this idea? And he’s like, um, yeah, OK. I guess it could be kind of cool and I don’t know what he thought of it after that, but then I put his email on it and started emailing him and I think he’s still subscribed, so I should ask him.

Sean: 22:13 – Yeah, I’m sure he’s still on there. How did you then go about growing your subscriber base and your audience?

Justin: 22:20 – Well, that’s the million-dollar question cause that’s what everybody’s trying to do, and we look at our subscribers as our customers. And so first what I started doing was I did paid-for advertising on Facebook. I was just like, we gotta get it out there. We don’t have budget to go to local events and and talk about it. And even if we did, the cost per subscriber would be astronomical because we’d spend $200 to go to an event or something like that. And if we got 200 subscribers, that’d be a dollar per subscriber, but it’s almost certain we wouldn’t get 200, you know, we didn’t have a booth or anything else like that. So I was like, we’re a digital publication, digitals’ where we gotta go.

Justin: 22:59 – And our money goes furthest. So I started doing Facebook advertising just like, hey, want to know what’s going across the globe with CrossFit, sign up for our daily newsletter, sort of, kind of pitch, and changed pitches a little bit, changed designs a little bit. And it started working and the money was being well spent and we were reaching an audience that had never seen this before and they were like, yeah, this is kinda cool. I’m interested. I want to read more. And they would sign up. And really when the change began to happen was when we focused our content after the 2016 CrossFit Games. We started focusing our content really heavily on the community and saying, look, we’re gonna go all in on the 99%, the 99% of CrossFitters in the box every day going to the gym, working out, and we’re going to start generating more content for them.

Justin: 23:54 – And then they started sharing it more. And what we realized was if we can get into a new gym, we tap into a new market. If there—at the time were 12,000 gyms in the world, if there are 12,000 gyms in the world and we only cater to 75 gyms, well then all those other markets we’re not inside of. And so every time we would get into a new gym, we realized that it was going to strengthen our ability to grow because, oh, you know, you’re a member of this gym and you’re going to some point, you’re going to share it with your coach or with a member and you’re going to say, oh, did you hear about this thing that went on at this other gym? And someone’s going to go, no, I did not. Where did you read that?

Justin: 24:37 – And they’re going to say, I read it in the Morning Chalk Up. You should go check it out. And they’ll go to our site and sign up. And so that word of mouth by focusing on community content help us to grow inside of gyms. And we really need to update the stat cause it’s like two years old. But at one point we had readers in 72 countries in 10,400 different gyms. Which is two thirds of the CrossFit gym world, which means that we communicate with more gyms on the planet than anybody else does on a daily basis.

Sean: 25:05 – The CrossFit media landscape changed drastically. I think that’s an understatement, in 2018, how did that affect the Morning Chalk Up?

Justin: 25:13 – So here’s an interesting thought in business, it’s like, figure out who you are and what you’re going to do. Right? So I talked a little bit about audiences. We knew exactly who our audiences were and we generated a product for each one of those audiences. And then you also have to decide who you’re going to be. Are you going to be a newsletter or are you going to be a big media company? Are you going to be a vlog? Are you going to be CrossFit media and compete at the time with that large production? You know, you can try to be the ESPN of CrossFit. So I had made a conscious choice that I was just going to be a newsletter. We did have a site eventually and the site got decent traffic and we put stories up there primarily because the stories were too long to fit in the newsletter, just it disrupted the flow. And then we also wanted a place where we could archive them, why put out that good content if nobody else on the internet can get it.

Justin: 26:05 – So, we were originally planning to just continue to be a newsletter. That’s it. And then we would have some site content and do some other opportunities as they arose. But when that landscape shifted, I said, you know, look the time, if we were there were ever a time, now is the time. And we’re going to now shift our effort and energy into becoming a CrossFit media company. And really going all in on that and delivering multiple stories daily, five, six or seven days a week, covering events, becoming the conversation driver of what people are discussing and what people are reading and talking about on a regular basis. Not just for the sport, but the community and the lifestyle of CrossFit, and we’re in various stages of implementing those across the board. So when that changed, the first thing that happened to me was, OK, where are we expanding next?

Justin: 27:04 – And you kind of have this vacuum environment, you’re like, OK, CrossFit used to do all of these things. We can’t afford to do any of them, but I feel like I have the pressure to do all of them. So that was the hardest thing was saying no, and saying no to this, this, this and this. And then figuring out what we were going to do and what we were going to do really well. The tendency inside of a vacuum is to try and fill all the space. Well, it’s very expensive to fill all the space and sometimes you can bankrupt yourself or you can grow too fast to the point where your core product, in our case, the newsletter, now suffers in quality because the attention and the care that it was given previously as your only product is now getting barely any, or 10% or 15 or maybe even only 50% but 50% might not be good enough.

Justin: 27:52 – So, I, you know, tried to figure out what I thought was the smartest things for us to grow into naturally and start growing into them. And it’s been a basically a year, just a shade over a year since that happened. And I think we’ve grown at a decent clip, especially considering our content production has increased significantly. Adding guys like Tommy to the staff writers roster and finding some other talented people across the industry who really wanted to take an interest in this. And we’re starting to kind of move in that direction. But obviously it was right place, right time kind of opportunity. But if we hadn’t known a lot of the important answers to business questions—who we are, what we’re doing, who our audiences are, what our business model is—we wouldn’t have been in a position to be successful for the last 12 months, or we wouldn’t even have been in position to say yes. We might’ve wanted to. We might’ve said yes, but it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea. And the last 12 months certainly would have a lot more calamitous and rocky regardless. So that’s kind of one thing I underscored a lot of people asking me the question of yeah, you seem like you’re on a big rise here. It’s like, yes, but that hard work that we put in there for three years or two and a half years of accomplishing our mission daily with discipline and moving in that trajectory was what set us up to be able to say yes successfully. And I really attribute that discipline to why we’re here today.

Sean: 29:24 – You started this all on your own. It was just you banging out these stories on your keyboard. What does your staff look like now?

Justin: 29:32 – Quite a bit bigger, thankfully. First hire was—so first writing hire was a girl named Jessica Danger, who’s at Left Coast CrossFit down in Laguna Beach, and a business partner of mine had introduced us. And that was a really important key first hire because it allowed me to get outside of writing the newsletter every single day. At that point for two and half years, I was the sole writer of content except for an occasional contribution post from somebody. And that first one was key that allowed us to get into the next couple phases. And it wasn’t really until CrossFit media went away that we even considered hiring and bringing on other people. So now we’re like, Brittany, Tommy, Jessica, me as your primary writers. Plus we’re getting, you know, some freelance work from two or three other writers. So that’s seven, four staff writers and then three freelance writers.

Justin: 30:33 – And then we have Matt and Eric on tech and design, research and analytics, like statistical analysis, which is coming in key for sports. So you know, you’re looking at like a broad network of like 12, 13 and 14 yeah. So like people are in various stages of support. Some people are just kind of in our network and they write for us time to time and occasionally and some people are really doing some hands on stuff. Now we’ve got somebody managing social, we’ve got a go-to for translating into other languages when we want to do social posts in Spanish and Portuguese. And we’ve got content writers offering a lot of different perspectives and stuff. So now I would say like on a regular basis in our Slack channel, we have like 12 people talking regularly, which is excellent.

Justin: 31:23 – And that’s allowing us to touch a lot of different stories and types and a lot of different perspectives because, you know, ultimately what I found out was that I may be really well suited to do one particular thing, like write the newsletter or do social media, but I can’t do all of them and I can’t do all of them well, but I’m uniquely positioned to drive this company forward. And so I’ve slowly been bringing on people that as I can find them that are like, yes, you’re really good at this. Like, let’s do this and let’s help plug you in and then we’ll grow it from there and just kind of bring you on as like a part-time contractor and then we’ll see what other doors open up. And that’s been a huge driver of success, allowing me to take steps back and really grow. We’re actually looking to hire like a pretty important position now, senior managing editor to really take over a large component of my editorial responsibility, which is pretty significant actually.

Justin: 32:17 – I spend about 50% of my day just talking with the reporters, reading their stories, editing, rewriting, looking at sources, fact checking, checking the newsletter on a regular basis. Like that stuff takes me hours a day and it’s very important. It’s actually what is core to who we are because take such great care in what we do and we are professionals in it. We dominate the written word space, but that requires a lot of energy and effort. And so we’re looking for somebody to actually hire to take over that responsibility so that we can grow even further so that I can go off and put my creative energy in other areas. And I think that’s a great lesson that I’ve had to learn over the last couple of years is just because you can do it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire somebody else to do it right.

Justin: 33:08 – There are some things that you might be excellent at, but if you’re gonna hold onto it like it’s your baby, that’s OK. But it has to be so important that you have to do it and that there isn’t something else out there that you are either not doing or should or need to be doing for your company. And that has been a new lesson for me to learn and I’m getting into that point where I’m giving up more things and more control over areas and bringing on talented people who I can teach, maybe, learn some of the things that I know and obviously bring your own skill sets and their own creative energy to the process.

Sean: 33:39 – When you look at where the Morning Chalk Up stands now, what are the things that you think you do really well?

Justin: 33:45 – I think we write extremely well. I think that when it comes to the written word, we are the best. And I would put our writing and our reporting against anybody else’s, not just in our industry, but like I think we do a very, very good job analyzing the sport and the community of CrossFit and bringing and surfacing stories that are worth discussing and talking about. Areas where we don’t do really well are in video. We’re not a video company. We never set ourselves up to be and to onboard, we’ve talked about this, to onboard like a whole new type of content takes time and energy. You think, well look, it took Morning Chalk Up three, three and a half years to be where it is today on its written content. We shouldn’t expect two or three months to be where everybody else is on video who spent the last two or three years. When it comes to writing, I think we are excellent and we’re going to continue to become even better and we’re going to hire more writers to do better writing and more types of writing. You know, when you look at it, written content isn’t going away. It’s not all visual and video. You know, companies like The Athletic who are investing literally millions of dollars in only written content. The Players Tribune, which is in discussions as a multimillion dollar buyout opportunity, is majority written content and then some video content. And so we’re going to continue to do what we do really well and not sacrifice on that while still trying to learn some new things, videos, one of them, podcasts is another. We’re not going to get into too many other things outside of that because we want to be able to cover the sport and the community. And we think those are the best ways to do it.

Sean: 35:23 – What does the upcoming year look like for you? And then everyone with whom you work at the Morning Chalk

Justin: 35:37 – Elite status airline miles is what it looks like. I mean the season’s starting, the season has started, but like the travel season—I’ve already had, I leave in two, in a day and a half for Boston for the 20.5 announcement. And then basically I go on the road almost in near perpetuity for eight months. Well, whatever it is, seven months. I have Ireland, Dubai, China or China, Dubai, excuse me. And then TBD on January. And then February, March, April, May is like, you know, Germany, Iceland, Canada, Australia, you name it. And so the season or what the next year kind of looks like for us is we are going to continue to expand the ways that we cover our sport and we’re going to try some new things. So yes, we do written content, we want to figure out some other ways to bring in the audience and engage them on this content.

Justin: 36:30 – We’re going to go to these events and we’re going to cover them in person because we believe that that while it’s more expensive to do that, ultimately the quality of that is realized. There are certain things as you know, you can’t do from a livestream if there even is a live stream. And so we’re going to go to these events. We’re sending minimum two people to each event. Sometimes we’re sending three and we are going to continue to do what we do best in those areas and cover it. Basically the goal is how can we bring fans as close to the sidelines as possible, not only with statistical analysis and stories and sideline reporting, but a whole suite of packages, maybe some more analysis and maybe some more video components. And we’re going to start experimenting with them.

Justin: 37:15 – So you’re gonna see a lot of different content depending on the landscape and depending on the opportunity in each one of these sanctional environments, we’re going to try new things and come up with a playbook that’s like, yes. And then at the CrossFit Games next year, hopefully we’ve perfected that playbook and we’re really able to offer a ton more and more people. Last year we had 11 people at the CrossFit Games for the Morning Chalk Up, 11 people, which is just, I mean, I was stressed, to say the least, with that many bodies running around, but we hope to be able to have 11 more next year that are covering from all angles. We don’t just want to do more of the same. We want to offer more interest types and more looks into what’s going on. There’s so many opportunities in this sport and community and we want to investigate all of them.

Justin: 37:59 – But I’ve talked a lot about sports. We’re also, you know, very heavy in the community aspect of CrossFit. We’ve been covering Battle Cancer. We sent a reporter out to London to cover that event. We’re doing some stuff at Tribal Clash, Tribal Clashes is an amazing organization that’s donating tens of thousands of dollars to charities worldwide. And so we’re growing our sports content while at the same time our community content, it seems like, you know, most of the things we talk about are the sports side of things because that’s newer for us. It’s only in the last 12 months. But not to neglected is the community element of which is so important, so integral to not only our success but the reason why the community is here and so strong.

Sean: 38:41 – Justin, thank you so much for doing this man. And I know everyone loves coming to your website and reading your newsletter. I mean there were times where when I was actually working at CrossFit that, you know, they weren’t talking to us. We’d get information from you, so we all really appreciate everything you’re doing and can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for the future.

Justin: 38:57 – Thanks so much Sean. Appreciate it.

Justin: 38:59 – Big thanks to Justin LoFranco for taking the time to talk with me. If you want to subscribe to the Morning Chalk Up, you can head to they are also all over social media. You can find them on Facebook, Instagram, and on YouTube. If you know me, you know I like hockey, wrestling, pro football, dogs and fitness, and I also like podcasts every week. I am fired up to bring you the very best of the fitness world on Two-Brain Radio. I’m always digging for the best stories from the most interesting people in the industry. We are also cranking out other great shows that can help you run a successful business. Every Monday, the clever guys from Two-Brain Marketing are showcasing success and serving the secret sauce that gets leads into gyms. And every Thursday we’ve got the best of the business world, people who will educate you and inspire you. So if you haven’t, please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio. Leave us a rating or a review. I would certainly appreciate it. Thanks for listening everybody, and we’ll see you next time.


On Wednesdays, Sean Woodland tells the best stories in the CrossFit community on Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland.

Greg Strauch will be here every Thursday with the Two-Brain Radio Podcast.

Two-Brain Marketing episodes come out Mondays, and host Mateo Lopez focuses on sales and digital marketing. 

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Two-Brain Radio: From $260 in Ads to $5,000 in Front-End Sales With Rachael O’Donnell

Two-Brain Radio: From $260 in Ads to $5,000 in Front-End Sales With Rachael O’Donnell






Mateo: 00:02 – It’s Mateo of Two-Brain Marketing. On this edition of the Two-Brain Marketing podcast, I’m talking with Rachael O’Donnell from Grit and Grace CrossFit. You’ll learn about her advertising system and how she spent 260 bucks on ads and generated $5,000 in front-end sales in less than two weeks, so you don’t want to miss this. Make sure to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for more marketing tips and secrets each week

Greg: 00:23 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

Chris: 00:37 – What makes a good gym website? The answer to that question keeps changing. Five years ago I would’ve said that you need this rotating banner image. Three years ago I would’ve said you have to have one splash page highlighting the benefits of your service. That’s true. The problem is that the benefits of your service change by the client you’re trying to target and so you need to be able to adapt. You need to be able to add your own landing pages. Your main cover page should reflect what your most important clients want. That’s going to be different from what my most important clients want. So a website that’s based on a template with the same kind of rotating image is not going to work anymore. I use For Time Design for the and Catalyst gym websites because those are the most important websites I own. I want responsive design that’s going to work well on mobile. About 60% of your clients are going to come through mobile and more in the future. I want a responsive designer, which means I can contact them to make changes and I want to know how to change my own oil. I want to know how to get in there and add my own posts. I talk a lot about content marketing and that means I have to know the medium through which I’m delivering my content. Using For Time Design has been my choice now for about three years because Theresa and her team are super responsive. She can answer questions for me, she can show me how to do it myself if I want to or she can do it for me if I don’t have time. She’s created a big series of videos for Two-Brain clients in our Incubator and Growth stages to watch so that they can do stuff like build landing pages themselves. A lot of website companies try to pull the curtain in front of their knowledge. They try to hold a lot of stuff secret so that they can charge you to do the basic things. Just like in car maintenance, changing your oil, rotating your tires. If you want to do that stuff, awesome. If you don’t have time to do that stuff, take it to the garage. Theresa at For Time Design gives you both options and she’ll even teach you how to do it yourself if you want to. I use that’s what’s made them an official Two-Brain partner is our firm belief in their commitment to helping first and a strong sense of service value.

Mateo: 02:54 – Hello and welcome to the Two-Brain Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Mateo Lopez. I’m one of the digital mentors at Two-Brain Business. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for tuning in. This is your weekly dose of digital marketing magic, and in today’s episode, very special guest, Rachael, owner of Grit and Grace CrossFit, you’ll learn about her experience and how in less than 30 days, she added 10 new clients to her gym. Right?

Rachael: 03:20 – Yeah, yeah. Thanks for having me.

Mateo: 03:23 – Thanks for popping on. So for those who are just tuning in, if you don’t mind, tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from and your business.

Rachael: 03:35 – Sure. It’s like you said, my name is Rachael. I live in Buxton, Maine, which is just down the road from where my gym is in Gorham, kind of a small suburban town outside of city here. I found CrossFit, I guess about eight years ago, after a lifetime of really not being an athlete or someone that was into fitness at all. I was a cigarette smoker for 20 years and really looking for a way to quit smoking and believed that fitness would help me do that, but I could never get myself committed to it. So after kind of watching CrossFit on social media for a while, I finally was brave enough to get myself to a gym and quit smoking a week later. And my whole life changed. You know, we hear a lot of those stories from people, how CrossFit changes their life. I’m definitely one of them.

Mateo: 04:19 – CrossFit to quit smoking. That’s a pretty intense remedy for the cigarette habit.

Rachael: 04:25 – I don’t know, it took a moment of insane bravery to walk into the gym for that first time, you know, but I had come across an old friend on social media who was posting about really like his transformation because of CrossFit. And I just felt really inspired to give it a try. And I loved it. It was the first time I ever really loved fitness and I was also found fitness kind of late in life. I was 35 at the time, you know, CrossFit helped me quit smoking, changed my life, commit to working out. It really just transformed everything. And I worked as a I’m a clinical social worker and that’s what I did for my career prior to opening the gym. And I was always really blown away by how much people would transform inside a CrossFit gym, both physically and mentally and just felt more and more pulled to help people change their lives but with CrossFit, and eventually was able to find an opportunity to start coaching and started dreaming about owning my own gym and then an opportunity popped up and boom, I was opening a gym and we just celebrated our two-year anniversary in September.

Mateo: 05:28 – Oh, that’s awesome. So relatively new. You know, two years. That’s not too old. Not brand new. That’s great. Are you still a social worker? Do you juggle both or did you juggle both?

Rachael: 05:41 – Just for the first few months. We opened September two years ago and I actually in February, that next year, just a few months later, I closed my private practice to run the gym full time. I own the gym with my husband James. I do all the day-to-day running of the gym. He still works his regular job and I was fortunate enough to kind of have his back-up and be able to do that and just focus on running the gym. So I’ve been doing just that ever since. I still have my licenses, but I’m not actively practicing.

Mateo: 06:10 – Is there any carryover from the work you had to do?

Rachael: 06:13 – Oh, so much. Yeah, so much. I mean being a coach, you know, being a therapist has really taught me a lot about human behavior and how to read people and how to work with people who are struggling. And that definitely translates in the CrossFit gym. It’s really helpful for forming relationships and knowing how to connect with people. Gotten a lot of skills from that. And that’s helped me both in being a boss and a leader, you know, and running the gym and connecting with my members. So yeah. Been super useful for sure.

Mateo: 06:46 – Did you say social worker or did I say social worker? Clinical psychologist?

Rachael: 06:50 – No, social worker. So clinical social worker. Yeah, master’s. Master’s degree, not a PhD.

Mateo: 06:55 – OK. No, I was making sure I got it right. OK. Yeah. Cool. Yeah. No, I mean we say it all the time, a lot of therapy work that you have to do as a CrossFit coach when you’re dealing with your members from time to time for sure. Especially in that No-Sweat Intro, you gotta find the why, you know?

Rachael: 07:12 – It’s definitely coming in handy there. I feel like No-Sweat Intros are definitely my jam. Even though I’ve struggled with some feelings around sales and selling people things, I’m still working through that stuff. You know, the connection piece of getting to know someone, what’s happening in their lives, why they’re seeking out change. And I think making them feel safe and supported in an environment that can be really intimidating. I have some strengths there.

Mateo: 07:38 – That’s exactly what you need for your job. So yeah, 100% there’s carryover there. Well that’s great. So tell me a little bit about the name Grit and Grace. How’d you come up with that?

Rachael: 07:49 – I get asked this a lot. I, you know, when we were looking for names for our gym, you know, it’s hard to find a unique CrossFit gym name these days. I’m not sure where it came from. I feel like I came across it somewhere in my research and internet searching and it kind of stuck. It was actually our second choice name, but I’m really glad it’s the one that we were able to get because I think it fits really well. So, yeah.

Mateo: 08:14 – But no meaning, just because you thought it sounded cool.

Rachael: 08:16 – Yeah, I just really liked it and I mean, now that I have the gym, I can see a lot of connection, you know, with just in CrossFit in general, what it takes is both of those things inside the gym. So I think we could definitely get philosophical about it if we wanted to. Yeah. But I think it’s just a beautiful name.

Mateo: 08:32 – No, let’s do it. Let’s get philosophical about it. Let’s go there. Cool. All right, well how long have you been Two Brain? We talked about it briefly before we started hopping on here, but what was kind of the catalyst for seeking out, you know, business mentorship?

Rachael: 08:51 – So, we started with Two-Brain in February of this year, so about a year and five or six months into owning the gym. I was working an insane amount of hours and a lot of the time without my husband’s help because he actually has a job where he travels for long periods of time. So I was working 90-plus hours a week for months and months. I was coaching virtually all of the classes at my gym for a really long time. And I could just feel myself reaching my limits for that. You know, like, I don’t think I can do this much more than six months. Like something has to change. I can’t continue to work like this, you know, getting up at 4:00 a.m. and not getting in bed until 11:00 p.m. And it’s a lot, a lot of people understand that, that have run a gym.

Rachael: 09:37 – So I found out about Two-Brain in a Facebook group for women box owners, people were mentioning it. So I started kind of looking at what Two-Brain was. I came across Chris Cooper, read one of his books, started listening to the podcast, just really soaking up all the awesome content that he provides for people and started feeling like this is something I probably need to do. But struggling with spending the money, definitely was not taking a paycheck from the gym and not having a lot of extra money. We were fine, we were able to pay the bill, but we weren’t making profit. So really what the catalyst was my husband and I went to a Wodapalooza last January. We ran into Matt Michaud, who owns EverProven CrossFit in Durbin, New Hampshire, who’s a friend of ours and someone that we respect very much as a business owner. He runs a really successful gym there. He gave us a lot of good input when we were planning on opening the gym, which was great. We ran into him. We knew he had worked with Two-Brain. We asked him some direct questions about his experience and if he would recommend it and based on what he said, that’s really why we decided to do it. I think it was shortly after we got back from Wodapalooza we signed up and I got started.

Mateo: 10:48 – Awesome. How was Wodapalooza?

Rachael: 10:51 – It was really fun. It was actually kind of the first break that I had gotten. I had enough coaches that I could get away for a long weekend. I’m not gonna lie. We kind of slept in our hotel room most of the time we were there. We were so exhausted. We slept a lot and then snuck down and soaked up some CrossFit and that was really fun too. It was fun. It’s like our first event is box owners and that was really fun. Yeah.

Mateo: 11:12 – Yeah. No, that’s awesome. Haven’t been there, but I’ve been to the Games a couple times. Same, you get away and want to just like hang out, have a good time in a new city. And then, yeah, tons of CrossFit. It’s definitely one of those things where—I did not come up with this, I heard this somewhere, but it’s one of those weird sporting events where like the people in the audience are also active participants in the sport. If you go to a football game, you know, not everyone there played football. I know. I’ve never played football, but I watch it on TV, you know, but with CrossFit, everyone there, you’re also doing the sport. So it’s pretty interesting.

Rachael: 11:51 – Yeah, for sure. That is different.

Mateo: 11:54 – It’s an interesting vibe. It’s cool. It’s a good time. So when you started going through the Incubator and through mentorship, what did you see—when was the first kind of changing your business that you saw where you were like, oh wow, this is helping, or this is what I needed to do, or this is the right direction. Or what was the first thing you saw really changing your business?

Rachael: 12:13 – The biggest thing was me just getting some of my time back. That happened for a couple of reasons, like getting some people to clean the gym. I think that was like the first order of business that I worked on with my mentor. That was tough because like we didn’t have the money and you know, gotta spend money to make money and it was just taking that first step right. And it was incredible because on top of working all the hours I was working, I was still cleaning the gym by myself a couple of times a week. Getting rid of that was amazing. That was amazing. Getting rid of that responsibility and then, you know, being able to get a little bit more time from my current coaches that were very part time, them covering a few more classes so I was coaching a little less.

Rachael: 12:53 – My mentor helped me really find some ways to get some of my time back with the resources that I had available to me right then. That was a life-saver just for me to be able to slow down just slightly. I didn’t see kind of immediate, I think revenue kickback with my mentorship, but I think the reason that is, is it took me so long to get through it because I started in February. I really just started my Facebook ads in October and I put everything on hold for about three months because I needed to find a coach that had some availability because I knew we’re going to do this marketing, I’m going to be so busy. And I just was honest to my mentor and I’m like, I cannot work any more than I’m currently working. Like I’m tapped. So really focused a lot on getting other things in place, focused on other things for the business, finding the right staff, getting them trained and ready.

Rachael: 13:45 – And now here I am. So now we’re starting to see kind of the financial benefits are coming, which is awesome. But for three or four months now, I’m a lot closer to my Perfect Day. I mean, I don’t have to get up early unless I choose to anymore. I coached the 9—I coach five hours a week instead of 30-plus. And those are times that I choose to. I don’t even have to coach those if I don’t want to. I could probably get them covered, but I want to, so I’m doing it. I have control over my schedule. I have, you know, free time on the weekends. I can take class again. It had been a long time since I had been able to take a class. So my quality of life more so than the revenue, like that piece is huge. Like significant change.

Mateo: 14:28 – Yeah. I mean, and by doing that now you can focus on increasing revenue in a place in your business you wouldn’t have been able to before. Getting that time back for it. The energy and the time, exactly. A lot of people struggle with staffing, and it sounds like it took a while for you to find the right person or the right people as well. What was that process like and what advice do you have for anyone who, they need to hire coaches?

Rachael: 14:52 – Yeah, so most of my coaches currently are members that converted to coaches and trained as coaches. The one that is kind of my full-time coach who works the most hours, that’s her primary job, is being a coach at the gym. Just came on in May. We trained her in May and she was kind of official in June. And I feel it’s a little bit of luck that I found her. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s how it feels. I feel like the universe kind of brought her to me and it was a good fit. But for my hiring process. It’s really about finding people that share my values and believe in my vision for the gym. And because of my background, because I’m a therapist, I really value honest, direct communication. And I know that’s something that a lot of people struggle with and I’m a pretty straightforward person in a loving way.

Rachael: 15:45 – But I’m honest about what I’m feeling and what I need. And I am a really hard worker and I want to be surrounded by people that are the same as that. So I try to be really upfront when I’m hiring coaches and I’m asking them to come on about what my expectations are. Even before Two-Brain, the first time I hired a coach, I created a handbook and a contract before I ever brought them on board. And I definitely improved those things with Two-Brain’s help, for sure. But I just try and be upfront about my expectations, who I am. I’ve tried to make the feedback loop a really normal part of the culture at my gym. So I really share that with coaches right out of the gate that you’re going to get feedback from me every single time you coach both positive, what you’re doing really well, and the areas that I want you to continue to grow. So I’m trying to find people that are growth oriented and have that growth mindset, which isn’t always easy to find people like that. But I happen to be lucky enough to find a few and they’re awesome.

Chris: 16:42 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper. If you’ve ever run out of money, you know that it affects every single corner of your life, all of your relationships, your business, even your self-worth. And so when I found a mentor in 2009, I said, I want to share this gift with everyone. Since then, I’ve been building and refining and improving a mentorship practice that we now call Two-Brain Business. We break our mentorship into several stages. The first stage is the Incubator, which is a 12-week sprint to get your foundation built, to get you started on retention and employee programs and finding the best staff, putting them in the best roles, training them up to be successful, and then recruiting more clients. It’s an amazing program. It is the culmination of over a decade of work. It’s also the sum of best practices from over 800 gyms around the world. These aren’t just my ideas anymore. What we do is track with data what’s working for whom and when, and we test new ideas against that data to say, is this actually better? Then when ideas have proven themselves conclusively, then we put it in our Incubator or Growth or Tinker programs. I just wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to define who should be doing what in what stage of entrepreneurship. But no matter where you are, the Incubator is your first 12-week sprint to get as far as possible in your business. We’re a mentorship practice for one reason: Mentorship is what works. We work with gym owners for one reason: Because you have the potential to change the world with us, and I hope you do.

Mateo: 18:12 – Yeah, that’s tricky. You gotta—almost everyone says they want to grow, especially if they’re going to a new job. They’re going to a new job, everyone says, you know, they’re ready to level up or they want to grow, looking for opportunity to learn. But it’s not always true. How do you spot the difference?

Rachael: 18:28 – Yeah, I think you have to watch what people do and not just listen to what they tell you. So I developed kind of a whole hiring and interview process for my coaches, my potential coaches that includes shadowing classes, dropping in and taking class, getting feedback from my key members about the feeling that they got from that person. Then spending some time with my other coaches. So I have like a few steps that I take when someone’s interested in coaching. I developed that hiring process when I started formally looking for other coaches. It gives us all a chance to kind of get to know them and not just sit for half an hour and listen to them say, this is who I am and this is how I do things. But actually get to see them in that context. You know, do they start picking things up and cleaning up the gym without being asked?

Rachael: 19:18 – Right. Are they able to like make eye contact with a member and shake their hand and introduce themselves? I find that there’s a lot of introverted folks that want to be CrossFit coaches and there’s nothing wrong with that. But in terms of my expectations for how my coaches provide services at my gym, if you’re introverted, you’ve got to develop those skills to be a little bit more outgoing. Right? So I want to see you. I want to see how you actually introduce yourself to a person and if you do. So I try and provide opportunities for us to observe them, you know, doing the things that they’ll have to do as a coach so we can really get a feel for who they truly are.

Mateo: 19:52 – I like that. I haven’t heard that on here yet. That’s great. That’s really cool. You mentioned you look for in people when you’re hiring, who share the—who can share your vision and the values. You mentioned honesty and being straightforward, but what is the vision and the value? What’s the mission and the vision for the business?

Rachael: 20:13 – So my core values are—and the core values of the business, are courage, integrity, and drive. And the mission of our gym, the mission statement is to create healthier humans. You know, I’m a regular person who found CrossFit. I’m not an athlete. I didn’t open a gym so I can train for five hours a day. I opened a gym because I want to help other regular people learn to love fitness. And I think CrossFit provides a lot of really amazing and unique things that help people do that, right. That help them finally love fitness. So we are a regular person’s CrossFit gym. That is our focus. You know, we have three members in their sixties. Our oldest member that takes group classes is 67. We have a special track of programming for Legends, for the people that are that age.

Mateo: 20:55 – That’s awesome.

Rachael: 20:57 – Yeah. I really—the courage piece, that value is about, you know, facing fears, being willing to do things that scare us, not just in the context of CrossFit in the gym, but having uncomfortable conversations and stepping into those because they’re important for healthy connections. Integrity is about doing the right thing. You know, telling the truth. Drive is about working hard. I’m a work horse; my work ethic, I was just raised with an old-school work ethic. And I want to have people on my team that work hard and don’t cut corners, you know. So, yeah, those are my values. And we talk about them a lot. Like in my staff meetings we kick off our coaches’ meeting every time with shout-outs for members and coaches, and we do it in the context of values. So like shout-out for coaches who’ve been like demonstrating courage, integrity and drive. And that’s how we start our coaches’ meetings. That’s been awesome for reinforcing those values and getting everybody on board.

Mateo: 21:53 – I like that. Yeah. Cause we do around the horn—when we do our staff meetings, but that’s just like, hey, tell us something good that’s going on in your life, in the gym or out the gym. But I like how you tie it back to the core value. I think that’s the genius. That’s awesome.

Rachael: 22:11 – Thanks. It’s been working really well. And the other thing that we do, and I can’t take credit for this one, I totally stole this from Ben Bergeron, but he does if-then scenarios at his staff meetings, and I’ve been doing those as well. So like a hard situation comes up, we use it for everybody’s learning. Like how do we handle this if it happens? But I’m trying to contextualize it with the values. So when we look at those if-then scenarios, we say, all right, keeping in mind that the core values are courage and integrity and drive, how would we deal with this situation. So I think the reinforcement helps.

Mateo: 22:44 – Yeah. Yeah. Running through those scenarios. I was traveling with Chris one time and we, I got one of the scenario decks that we have, the Two-Brain ones, there’s just all the scenarios, what happens if someone gets hurt? What happens if someone wants to put on hold? What happens if someone doesn’t know where the thing is or whatever it is? And you just role play through those. But tying it into the core values, I think that’s awesome. That’s Rx. That’s the next level up. That’s good. You mentioned having uncomfortable conversations. I’m sure you’re a pro at that.

Rachael: 23:17 – I’m good at that. Oh man. It’s funny. I say being a business owner is like, that’s my primary job is having uncomfortable conversations. That’s basically what I do all day, every day. And honestly, I think if you’re going to run a successful business, you have to develop that skill first and foremost. Being a therapist definitely taught me how to confront people about things without like triggering shame and doing it in a way that they can still hear you. That’s probable been like my best skill from being a therapist to bring into being an entrepreneur. I try, I don’t always do it perfect. I screw up, I get pissed sometimes that things aren’t being done the way that I want them done, you know? But I do my best. And for the most part I think I handle those conversations pretty well. And I’m really trying to teach my coaches how to do it. And even though it’s tough for them, they’re all really trying in the way that they can do it for who they are as humans. They’re all really trying and I think that’s awesome cause that’s going to help them in their lives outside of the gym too, you know?

Mateo: 24:17 – Oh, 100%. Yeah. That is probably the best skill set to have right there. Cause I think you’re right. It’s just having serious—I didn’t think of it that way, but you’re right, being an entrepreneur is just having a series of uncomfortable conversations with everyone. And most people, you know, yeah, if they didn’t go—if they haven’t worked on it to develop that skill or be comfortable in sharing in their own voice then yeah, you’re gonna have a tough time growing the business where you need to—and for yourself. Like you said, those skills will help you outside in real life too, or in the outside world. So yeah, I mean that’s awesome. Tell us a little about, you mentioned it took you a while to get through the core curriculum in the Incubator. But we got through it, we found the right people, we hired them and we developed them, we augmented our systems with the Incubator handbooks, all that. And then we got to the paid ads. How did that go? Tell me about your experience. What happened?

Rachael: 25:23 – Well, it went good. So, you know, I’ll be honest, I really, I was really struggling with running ads, like really, really struggling with running ads for the gym. But my mentor was awesome and I worked really hard to just trust him and your guys’, you know, experience and advice. And so I launched the ads the way they were recommended and I did that on October 10 and in the first 16 days we spent about $260 in ad spend. I got 43 leads from those ads in that 16 days. I booked 23 No-Sweat Intros. And I got 10 new clients for the gym from those leads. So I made just under 5,000 in additional revenue from them. It was insane. I launched the ads and within 10 minutes, launched them on a Friday, and within 10 minutes my phone was exploding and I was literally sifting through my notebook with my notes from the Facebook Marketing Incubator, trying to figure out what to say to people and what to do.

Rachael: 26:25 – Like I had no idea. So I figured it out very quickly and I was very busy for that two weeks. It was nonstop, I was at the gym nonstop. But it was totally worth it. And this week has been a little bit quieter. I’m really grateful for that, so I can kind of wrap my head around things again. But it was awesome. That was really nice feedback cause like I said, I was struggling a little bit launching the ad. So it was nice to have that kind of instant feedback of like, holy cow, this works. You know, and I think one thing that my mentor Jay said to me that was probably the most powerful thing that helped me was he said at the end of the day that people that come in to talk to you who have come to you through the ads are just people that are struggling and need help.

Rachael: 27:10 – And you have a way to help them. Like you’re going to see that when you get across from them. And when he said that to me, I was like, OK, I’m just going to trust him and do this and see what happens. And he was right. You know? I mean, it’s just like any other person that walks into the gym struggling with not feeling good about themselves and frustrated that they’re not able to make change. And a lot of people are emotional about that. And I was able to see it as like, this is just a way for me to connect with people who wouldn’t know that we’re here otherwise. And I could feel that; instead of just having a bunch of people with more experience telling me that, like I felt it. So that was awesome. So now I’m a believer and I’m over it and really excited to keep seeing what’s gonna happen with it all.

Mateo: 27:54 – That’s awesome. I mean I try to say it in the curriculum, but these are people who are offering themselves up as tribute, like they are putting in their email and their phone number and giving it to you. So don’t be afraid to, you know, follow up with them and try to get them to come in and talk to them and then. And then it allows you to do what you do best, which is just talking and listening and helping. Why were you struggling? What was the part that you were like, ah, I don’t want to do this?

Rachael: 28:24 – Well, this is the truth. I mean, for like probably 10 days, I kept delaying my marketing call because I was like, maybe I’ll use a different photo. So I was struggling with using photos that weren’t of people from my gym. I was afraid that people from my gym were going to see it and make negative judgments about it. There was another gym, not a CrossFit gym, but another gym in the area who’s been running some ads recently of a different nature but you know, similar kind of feel and every time I see them I just am annoyed by them, you know? So I had that in my head and then I thought other CrossFit gyms in the area were going to see it and think that my business like wasn’t doing well. I mean that’s just the truth. All those things were going on in my head. It was just a lot of fear of what other people would think if you whittle it down right.

Mateo: 29:11 – Wow, but you should be a pro about knowing why worry about what other—those are your should voices. Those are your voices in your head. No one else is thinking that besides you.

Rachael: 29:19 – I know, I know. So, you know, in good therapist fashion, I was kinda analyzing why I was so stressed out about all this. But I think I just had to work through it a little bit. And you know, again, like when you don’t have any experience with sales, which I don’t, there’s just like, I have a little bit of fight against that. You know, like I hear sales and I think manipulating people and I know better than that now, but like, that’s what I was struggling with. So, but, you know, all those fears were unfounded and none of it matters. I mean, I don’t make decisions in my life based on what other people are going to think about me. I never have. So why would I start now? You know?

Mateo: 29:53 – Exactly. Exactly. Awesome. So last question then here for ya. I love your story. It sounds like you’ve come a long way from coaching, every single class, 30 hours a week of just classes and then another 30 doing everything else and taking that risk, right. Leaving the therapist thing that you trained for a while, a long time, I’m assuming, to be able to do and did for many years of your life and then deciding to jump in and risk with this new business and then put in the hours and then getting close to your Perfect Day. You know, you have more time off, you’re coaching when you want to coach and you know, now you’re seeing some real growth here. You added 10 new members in a couple of weeks. So, you know, what do you attribute to your growth so far, to your success so far? You know, and any therapist sage wisdom you have too. What do you got for us?

Rachael: 30:55 – Well, I mean, I think recognizing when I needed some help, right? From people who like, I’m trying to reinvent the wheel and there are other people that have experience and knowledge that I know can help me. And I’ve used coaching and mentoring in other areas of my life and I believe in it. It’s been amazing for helping me make changes. I was a therapist and played that role for a lot of people. It’s just a part of what I believe is useful in life. So it just made sense to me. I did not go to school for running a business, you know, I did not go to school for any of this. Like my knowledge is limited. So I reached out for help and again, just like recognizing that I needed it and also like knowing my own limits. You know, I can work hard for a long period of time, but I also know when it’s starting to have a negative impact on me and my mental and physical health and that’s what was happening. So I’m really glad that I reached out to Two-Brain. You guys definitely know what you’re doing and if anyone else is in the same position, I’d highly recommend they check it out. It’s definitely been one of the best decisions I’ve made since I opened the gym.

Mateo: 32:01 – Awesome. We’ll wrap it up there. Thanks so much. And I guess I’ll see if I’m ever in Maine.

Rachael: 32:08 – Yeah. Thanks Mateo. Thanks for having me.

Greg: 32:11 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


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Two-Brain Radio: When You Have to Let a Staff Member Go

Two-Brain Radio: When You Have to Let a Staff Member Go

13:21 – Stay neutral with your remaining staff: Don’t bash the former employee.

15:22 – Have more questions? We’re here to help.



Greg: 00:02 – Hey, it’s Greg Strauch with Two-Brain Media, and on this week’s episode I talk to you about letting a staff member or coach go: the steps that you need to take, making sure that you’re communicating effectively and you are transparent where it needs to be, but making sure that you follow the checklist and go through every single step to make the break clean and the coach goes in the direction or staff member needs to go in the direction they do and the business goes in the direction it needs to. So listen up and make sure you guys subscribe to Two-Brain Radio to hear the very best ideas, tips, and topics to move you and your business closer to wealth. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

Chris: 01:02 – One of my favorite finds has been I linked up with Matt several months ago at Forever Fierce and he had some fantastic ideas, and so he and I have put together a couple of packages that we think are really gonna help CrossFit affiliates everywhere. Two-Brain mentoring clients use Matt almost exclusively. He’s got fantastic designs and he takes all the work out of it. All that time that you spend searching the internet and Pinterest and junk like that for great CrossFit T-shirts? You don’t have to do that anymore. Matt has fixed that for you. You can put your logo on one of his templates, which are fantastic, and your clients will never know the difference. It saves you so much time that you could be using on other things like real marketing. He’ll also go so far as to remind you when it’s time to reorder. He’ll give you suggested order sizes, he’ll help you set up pre-orders so you’re not even fronting the cash from the inventory. It’s all amazing stuff built to help affiliates, and that’s why I love this guy and this company, They do all of Catalyst’s shirts, all the Two-Brain shirts, all the Ignite Gym shirts. They do everything for every business that I own.

Greg: 02:03 – When letting go of a coach or staff member, it can never be an easy task. There’s so many questions that run through your mind of how I could have helped this person. But really what it’s going to boil down to is the fact that they don’t line up with your vision or the values that you guys have set forth for the gym, whether that’s just you and having one or two staff members or your entire team helping you guide through that. And there’s been some questions that we’ve gotten throughout Two-Brain that are really great questions, and it’s probably the same questions that you guys are dealing with when trying to let go of a coach or a staff member. So questions that you guys may have is when letting go of a coach or a staff member, do I tell my staff, do I tell my members, what are the things I need to tell them?

Greg: 02:47 – What shouldn’t I tell them? Should I just worry about my members coming up with rumors of what’s happening? Should I create a class announcements or a post or a video or an email? What exactly should I say? And to answer that question, really what it comes down to is you want to tell your staff. You don’t need to concern yourself with your members unless it’s on a PT one-on-one basis with that staff member if they’re leaving. We don’t want to go into detail with what exactly happened always, but we do want them to know that when we had this person come on board, we loved having them and things can change. Time changes things, and for the best part of the business to move on in the right direction, it’s best if we split ways. And you’re going to talk to your staff about this and make sure you answer any questions.

Greg: 03:41 – You can let them answer any members that have questions if that person played a pivotal role in the classes as in if it’s a head coach or it’s a GM or something like that, or even a customer success manager, make sure your staff can come to you with questions on what you have to say. Make sure that they understand that we’re doing this for the betterment of the business. We’re moving in the right direction when we do this. Make sure that you sit down and have an exit either call or interview with said coach. Somebody that is leaving, we want to make sure that they understand a few things and one of those things is we want to make sure that they understand whatever classes that they have done, that they are getting paid for those classes, that we make sure that we collect all the things like maybe keys and those kinds of stuff.

Greg: 04:25 – But there’s a few other things and we have a full-on list that I’ll go through to make sure that you guys are executing on these things when removing somebody from your classes or basically your business. Now, the next question you may be asking yourself is what happens if this coach still wants to be part of the gym? They want to be a member at the gym. Can we do this? And the answer is yes and no. Yes, depending on what they were being let go for. If you have a problem with a coach because they were stealing from you, let’s say they were collecting everybody’s money for Kill Cliffs and FitAids and shirts and pocketing the cash and never recording it, probably not somebody that you want to have in the gym because they may take from other members and you don’t want to have somebody like that in your environment. But make sure that if you decide to keep them and have them become a member, that all of the processes and standards that you have set forth for other members are completely understood.

Greg: 05:24 – This can be done definitely in that exit interview or call. Also the thing you are going to want to do is make sure that in that exit interview or call that you review your NDA and any other agreements that you have set forth with them. You want to make sure that they understand exactly what is in there, what they’re basically allowed to do and not allowed to do, and you’re not doing this to bully them. Make sure you are explaining to them, listen, we want to make sure that you are set forth in the right direction, but we also want to make sure that they don’t turn around work for a competitive not knowing that they’re actually violating their NDA or if they had a compete at some time. Depending on who they are and the regulations within your country and state, that’s going to change from state by state and country by country. Make sure that you sit down, like I said earlier, and go over that final invoice with them. Make sure you get that final invoice paid. And then a few things that you’re going to want to make sure that you guys go over. Now, some of these may be things that you guys have within your business. Some of them you may not. But things like the gym-management software, make sure they’re removed access from it. We don’t want them to have any access to any of those things. Make sure if they have an email account that the password is changed and they’re logged out of anything that they had access to, especially if you had PT sessions that were documented in say like a Google Docs or Google Drive or your playbook is in there.

Greg: 06:48 – We don’t want them to have access to these things. So make sure that you guys are removing access to all of those things. You’re going to make sure that your CRM, if they have any type of contacts, say, let’s say they have PT clients that you had actually assigned to them, that they’re removed out of there. Make sure your CSM is knocking that out and making sure they’re removed from there. Make sure they don’t have a CRM account. Make sure that is removed. Depending on the communication that you have with your staff, if you use something like Slack, we want to make sure that that is removed as well. We don’t want them to be communicating back and forth, having staff saying, hey, sorry, that sucks or whatever it’s going to be, because we want to make sure that we have a clean break when we do this.

Greg: 07:32 – We want to make sure that if there are any Facebook groups or any kind of front-facing to clients or future clients, we remove them from there. Any private groups, remove them from there. Make sure that if they’re in Acuity and you’re scheduling appointments with them, we get rid of that stuff as well. Remove them from any email lists. Say we send out an email once a week to our coaching staff or just our staff in general, we want to make sure that they are removed from there. If they use any kind of online software such as like Zoom for recording, if they do online stuff, we want to make sure that’s gone. If they have any calendar appointments, we want to make sure those get rescheduled as well. Cause if you have coaches that are performing PT sessions or on-ramp sessions or whatever it’s going to be, we want to make sure that those are all rescheduled so the client doesn’t really see a big step from this one coach to the next coach that’s going to be taking over for them.

Greg: 08:24 – Now when that happens, that is definitely something by case by case that you may want to sit down and have a one-on-one conversation with that member. Just letting them know, again, we’re not going to turn around and throw their dirt out there. We’re not going to turn around and say what exactly happened. Except for the fact of the facts, which is, hey, they’re moving on to new and better things, which is the same thing that we’re going to be putting in that email that we’re going to be communicating to our coaching staff. And make sure that the coaches that are still at the gym and the staff that’s still at the gym, they understand. If anyone has any hard questions that they don’t feel like they can answer or don’t really know and they’re going to speculate, make sure they don’t and they have those members come to you and talk to you because you’re going to do the same thing as what we’ve laid out before.

Greg: 09:07 – Communicate with them, but in a positive way that they’re moving in the right direction, the business is moving in the right direction. This was just better for everyone to go on to bigger and better things. Next we’re going to want to make sure communication again with the coaches with that staff member is removed out of that group, if there’s any kind of messaging, that kind of stuff, make sure that is removed. Make sure any messages one-on-one with clients is removed. Again, if you have some kind of non-compete in play and you’re authorized to be able to institute that still, make sure that in that exit interview or call or whatever, you want it to be, that they totally understand that that is still in play. Because the last thing you want is them to be reaching out to your members and trying to coax them into coming to another gym if you have a non-compete or anything like that in there.

Greg: 09:56 – The other part of that is too, let’s say they downloaded some of your documents, like your playbook or any of your information that is your business’. We want to make sure that they understand that that is still your business’ property and they’re not allowed to utilize it in any way. If they go to another gym or open up their own gym, whatever it’s going to be. So we want to make sure all that, and then anything else that you can possibly think of that they’d have access to, whether that’s your website, whether you have social media such as Instagram or YouTube or Twitter or whatever it’s going to be. Make sure that we remove access to all of them. And we want to make sure we go through this checklist to really knock all of that information out that I’ve said already.

Greg: 10:37 – We want to make sure that everybody understands exactly what’s going on and we want to make sure that everyone understands that we need to get past this and just keep moving forward. OK. The one thing you can do is make sure that the coach—if the coach does want to communicate with the staff, we can get one final communication with them. This is on behalf of them, but what they’re going to write is something that you as the owner is going to have to approve and then pass on. We’re not going to have them write to the staff members that this sucks and everyone come with me, that the owner or the GM, whoever’s firing them is doing a poor job and everyone needs to come with me, because we know that that probably isn’t true.

Greg: 11:18 – I mean, you aren’t firing them because they’re great and they’re doing everything right and they’re doing everything perfect and they’ve never made a mistake and they bring more members always. All those things is not the reason why you are letting them go. So if they do want to communicate, you can definitely have them send that to you and then you can clarify it and then send that out to the coaching team and the members. But make sure you are overlooking everything that goes on. But that’s the only way they should be communicating. They should not be reaching out to them personally. If you are sending something out to the clients, it is only really those one-on-one personal-training clients that we’re going to do that with. The other part of this is we are having a letter that I would definitely send an email which Two-Brain has a template for this.

Greg: 11:57 – So if you’re a Two-Brain client, you definitely have that email. And if you look through blog posts from the past, I know we have this blog post out there as well, but it’s basically a firing blog post and it’s going to basically just state, hey, things have been going great. The path that you’ve decided to do and the coach has decided to take on new things. And that we’re happy to announce that they’re able to do that and everyone’s moving in the right direction. And then of course at the end, making sure you say thank you for your trust, we won’t let you down or some version of that to remind them, hey, we’re here for you and here for the clients. And that’s really the reason why we had to let go of that staff member was we are moving in a different direction than they are and that’s OK.

Greg: 12:43 – They’re moving in the direction they need to and we are in the way we need to and it’s perfect. So I wanted to come on here, give you guys a little bit of information, action items that you guys can take forth and actually put into play. Because this is a question that we get a lot. Even though we’ve created content for it, it still comes up because every scenario could be a little different. And we’ve created a checklist. If you’re within the Two-Brain family, there are the modules that you can jump on and use the fire escape plan that we’ve created along with the different templates and stuff like that. If you guys have questions, as always, please reach out to us. You can reach out to me,, I’m happy to answer any questions, especially when letting go staff you, never know what can happen.

Greg: 13:21 – Every scenario can be a little different. And if you’re interested in making sure that hey, we want to handle this 100%, always booked that call, that free help call with us, at and we can get you set up with a mentor and get you started in Incubation where you have a mentor one-on-one and you can work on these things. But really when it comes down to this, make sure that you guys are being as transparent as it allows for both parties to stay neutral, if that makes sense. So you’re not going to go to your staff and remind them, hey, this person’s leaving cause they suck and they do all this stuff wrong and they’re awful. You’re just going to remind them that this is best for the business and best for the coaches and the best for the members and it’s best for them as well, the person that is leaving. We want to make sure that we create that sense of teamwork, that it’s not the business against the coaches, each coach separately or this one coach. Because at the end of the day, if another coach does get released from the gym or from your staff, you want to make sure that they understand if this ever happened to them, they would be left with their dignity as well. You’re not going to single them out within the group and ostracize them in any sort of way. We want them to know we truly do care, that they are human, they’re going in the right direction for them. And that’s what we need to have happen. This also means that sometimes they’re just not a perfect fit for you. I’ve had coaches and staff members that are not perfect fits for the gym.

Greg: 14:46 – They don’t follow what our vision is and where we’re going. They don’t align with our values and we have a quick conversation and then we follow this process to make sure that they’re moving on to better things. We want, again, to make sure that all staff members feel safe and understand that this is a team and we’re always going to protect the team and move in the direction of where the vision of the gym is going and the business is going. So again, if you guys got any questions out there, this is a little bit shorter episode than we normally have or having a guest on. It’s just me because I want to make sure I address this cause if people are having this issue, I want to make sure that you guys have some kind of resource out there to really talk about it.

Greg: 15:22 – Not too often do we talk about how do we let go of a coach. Usually it’s on the other side of it, how do I hire more coaches? How do I get more people in? Which is awesome. You’re bettering more people’s lives, which is amazing and phenomenal. But sometimes staff members that get in aren’t always perfect for where we’re going, or they were perfect at one point, but they’re not anymore. So I hope this helps you guys. I hope you guys understand to make sure to take care of all of your staff members, whether you’re bringing staff members in or letting staff members go. And of course, if you’ve got questions for me,, I’m happy to answer any questions.

Greg: 15:54 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


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Two-Brain Radio: Incorporating Strongman Movements Into CrossFit With Rob Orlando

Two-Brain Radio: Incorporating Strongman Movements Into CrossFit With Rob Orlando




Sean: 00:05 – Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode I talk with four-time CrossFit Games competitor and strongman subject-matter expert Rob Orlando. First, Chris Cooper almost went bankrupt in 2008. Now he’s running a multimillion dollar company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs avoid the mistakes that he made. He spent thousands of hours mentoring gym owners one on one, and his new book is packed with advice to help you grow your business and create your Perfect Day. “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” is an Amazon bestseller. Check out the book reviewers who are calling it a must-read and a lighthouse for your business, and if you want to level up, this is the business book that you need. Rob Orlando has competed at the CrossFit Games three times as an individual and once a master. He also runs the Hybrid Athletics strongman course. We talk about his days as a competitor, why he decided to incorporate strongman movements into CrossFit workouts and whatever possessed him to do the benchmark workout Grace with a 300-pound barbell. Thanks for listening everybody. Rob, thanks so much for taking the time to do this, man. How you doing?

Rob: 01:22 – I’m doing really good. Sean, how about you buddy?

Sean: 01:23 – I’m doing great. I wanted to start with what fitness looked like for you before you got involved in the world of CrossFit.

Rob: 01:37 – That’s a long time ago, Sean, I’ve been doing this a long time. If we want to go back to, um, you know, when I was 12, 13 years old, it’s like things started for me that early where I got a pull-up bar for my 12th or 13th birthday. I got a bench press set and my first Joe Wieder plastic weight set.

Sean: 01:56 – Yeah, I had those.

Rob: 01:57 – The ones that are sand-filled and if they hit the ground they break open. I had that stuff going way, way back and my older brother and I would just kind of lift weights and do pull-ups and push-ups and it just seemed like it was always something that I gravitated towards. And then kind of fast forward through high-school athletics, I played football and I was always the guy leading the stretches, the cool-downs; it just seemed like a natural fit for me.

Rob: 02:26 – And then I went off to college and I got a degree in exercise science. And I’ve been self-employed and on my own in the fitness world since I was, you know, 22 years old when I got out of college. So it’s just been aa lifelong endeavor, now going on 30-plus years. And it’s changed over the course of those, those years, from the age of 22 on, it’s kind of more from like bodybuilder to a strength athlete to a strongman competitor. Then it kind of moved into the CrossFit world in 2007 and eight. And that’s been, you know, I’ve just kind of found this balance point where now I’m still in the strongman world because I get to teach the seminars. But I’m living life as an affiliate owner and a competitor and as a, you know, broadcaster for the CrossFit world.

Rob: 03:19 – So that kind of runs the gamut for the last 25 years or so.

Sean: 03:23 – How did you get involved in CrossFit?

Rob: 03:26 – You know, way back in the day, and I think this is how the vast majority of people, 10 or 12 years ago found it. It was basically just this weird website that would throw up a workout of the day, and you’d get sucked into the vortex of like watching old videos of people like Greg Amundson and Annie Sakamoto doing, you know, these benchmark workouts, Nicole Carroll, doing these benchmark workouts. And that’s exactly what happened to me. So I found the website, one of my private clients that I was training for years, he said, you got to look at this workout called Murph. And I just thought he was completely insane. Cause at the time I was a strongman competitor exclusively.

Rob: 04:15 – The longest thing that I would ever do was, you know, a minute long. And I would say like, who’s gonna go run a mile and do a hundred, 200, 300. It just seemed like it was completely off the wall. But I checked out that workout and I remember I was sitting in my—at the time it was my girlfriend, now my wife, I was sitting in her family room. I was on a computer watching videos and I saw Annie and Greg do Fran. And you know, as I’m sitting there, and this is a true story, I was sitting there eating ice cream out of the tub. You got to remember I was 230 pounds. I was a strongman competitor. I was right at the top of the lightweight class. And I’m sitting there eating, you know, ice cream.

Rob: 05:01 – And I’m thinking like, why are these people moving that fast? It just crazy to me. But the next night, it was the next afternoon, I did Fran in my basement. And it I put 135 pounds on the bar because I was like, I can’t use 95. It’s too light. So I used 135 pounds. I had no idea how to kip. I don’t know how long it took me, but I laid there on the ground for well over an hour. My wife was concerned. She was like, you know, it reckless almost. But to me it was kind of eye-opening that how could I be so strong and not fit at all. And so that was my first dive into CrossFit. And from there I would just go to the website day after day and I would cherry-pick the workouts that made the most sense for me.

Rob: 05:57 – I would do the heavy lifting stuff and I would avoid all the endurance stuff. But you know, that the longer you do it, for me anyway, the longer I did it, the more I realized that there were a lot of holes in my fitness. And just overall health. And it was just like, I’ve got to do something different because at the time all the people that I was competing with at 230 pounds, they were slowly graduating up into the middle weight class and they were getting into the 265 class. And I just didn’t want to be that big. I’m only five foot eight and I didn’t want to be five eight, 260. And I started to not be that interested in the strongman world or being a competitor in that world. And CrossFit just kinda took me in.

Rob: 06:47 – And that was how I got involved. And from there it was just more and more workouts. And I read the book, “Enter the Zone” by Barry Sears and changed the way that I was eating and lost 25 pounds, like almost right away, cause I was eating enough carbs for about 10 people. And I lost a bunch of weight relatively quickly. It zapped my strength, but I ended up getting to a point where I was much more comfortable at like 210, and then from there it was kind of a slow ride down to the 200-pound marker, and the longer I’m at like 195 to 200, the fitter I get. And you know, now I’m doing this—I’m at this weight for almost 10 years now.

Sean: 07:32 – How did you figure out that you could actually compete in CrossFit and be successful at it as well?

Rob: 07:42 – That’s a good question. So at the time, I had just opened up my gym—like I was going house to house personal training people. And I was tired of running from house to house and dealing with the kids and the dogs and the phone calls and all this stuff that you have to deal with as a personal trainer. And I thought if I open up my own space and make my members and my clients come to me, I’m in control. And now they’re in my world. So I opened up my first facility in, I think it was the very tail-end of a 07, really early 08. And it was around that time, later in that year, late 2008, there was a girl that was working out at the gym and she was into CrossFit as well.

Rob: 08:35 – When we opened up we weren’t a CrossFit affiliate, that wasn’t the goal. We were just kinda, I was doing personal training there, and it morphed into a CrossFit affiliate later on. But she told me in the tail-end of 08, she’s like, hey, they’re doing this, a try-out for the CrossFit Games. It’s up in Albany and it’s in early—I think like, you know, April or May of 2009, you should try out. And I was like, I had nothing to lose, but I basically had zero prep. Cause nobody knew what it was. It was just this little obscure thing going on. So I made plans to go to Albany and I think there were, I want to say there were somewhere around 70 male athletes that were trying out, top five got to go to Aromas to compete. And I finished in fifth place, so I earned a spot. My first competition ever in the CrossFit world was that Regional. And then my next competition was at the Games in 09.

Sean: 09:33 – How did your background in traditional strongman movements and competing in strength sports help prepare you for competitive CrossFit?

Rob: 09:41 – You know, and I talk about this a lot at the seminars, that it’s this like idea that strength takes a lifetime to acquire and it’s this kind of long, slow process of just building that baseline of strength. And I believe that over years and years and now it’s decades of lifting and moving heavy odd objects, you have that baseline. So then all I need to do in order—and especially in 08 and 09 and 2010 when the skill wasn’t that good, right? It wasn’t these really highly technical lifts and movements that we were seeing. You know, the sport was in its infancy. I came into it with a good strength background and that allowed me, all I needed really to do was to work on my conditioning to be a well-rounded CrossFit athlete. Now it’s completely different. The playing field is totally different. You’ve got these guys that they are, you know, every bit as strong as like a really good Olympic weightlifter and they’re also a world-class gymnast and they’ve got lungs like a triathlete. So the sport has evolved and changed over the years, but in the beginning it was just who’s the strongest guy that has a decent set of lungs, and that just seemed to be, you know, I fit the mold for that.

Sean: 11:12 – Those 2009 Games are still viewed as one of the most difficult ever at the ranch. What was it like competing in that setting, in that competition?

Rob: 11:21 – I mean, looking back now it feels nostalgic and you know, I love the fact that I got to compete there and that I got to be part of such an early event where it was just so raw. The entire spectator area was like a thousand people. I mean, it was such a small event looking back now. And a lot of it was kind of seat of the pants, and in a way CrossFit is still that, you know, like Dave Castro still makes adjustments on the fly. That’s one thing that I’ve learned from the broadcast booth is that, you know, we always talk about it, right, Sean, that one thing we know is that like things are going to change and events are going to change.

Rob: 12:08 – And so you just have to be able to roll with that. And looking back at the 2009 Games, it was very rough. And the competitors, in between events, were sitting on a concrete slab inside the barn. The events, they weren’t even scripted really. They were kind of—the final event, the chipper WOD, I think that was put together like 20 minutes before the event itself. The event that we did that was I think three rounds of 30 snatches and 30 wall balls or something like that. They originally had it to be five rounds and that event just knocked people out. So I think it’s very cool and nostalgic to look back and to say that I was a part of that and that I got to compete alongside some guys that were stepping into CrossFit as well for the first time, like Mikko and Tommy Hackenbruck, you know, Matt Chan and some of these guys that I’d only seen on videos and then there I am sitting on a rower right next to them.

Sean: 13:12 – You were able to compete at the very first CrossFit Games with Reebok as the presenting sponsor. That was in 2011. What were the biggest changes that you noticed as a competitor when that took place?

Rob: 13:24 – I think just the size and the scope of the competition. You know, if I’m comparing 2009 to 2010, obviously we’re going from Aromas to Carson. And in 2010, I found myself in the opening event, on the tennis-stadium floor and I was in the final heat for the men that night. And the workout was Amanda. It was the first time that they were putting that workout out there. There was, like an F14 flyover, the national anthem, and then three, two, one. And I mean, I remember looking around at the floor and you know, there weren’t that many people in the stands. I don’t think there were a lot of people there to watch it, but for me personally, that’s one of those goosebump moments where you kind of say, this is a very cool thing.

Rob: 14:17 – You’ve got to pinch yourself. And remember the details because it’s a pretty cool place to be. And then you fast forward to 2011 and everything just explodes. That’s when Reebok gets involved and this thing just takes on a life of its own where, you know, you’ve got—it’s not an empty stadium on the first day. It’s a full stadium and the crowd gets bigger, the events get bigger, the purses get bigger, the whole thing just explodes essentially over the course of that single year from 2010 to 11.

Sean: 14:51 – What was the sense that you got from being there on the floor as a competitor about where the Games were headed from that point?

Rob: 15:02 – I think you could sense that again, like looking at the growth from nine to 10 and then 10 to 11, you got the idea that this thing was a snowball going downhill where you just can’t even believe that the Regionals events in 2011 were five times the size of the Games just two years prior.

Rob: 15:27 – And you started to feel like that it’s a runaway train where there are so many people and so many competitors around the world that they haven’t even seen this yet. And as they get introduced to it and they find it through social media and the really good athletes get sucked into it, the quality and the caliber of the athletes is gonna go up. The skill level is gonna go up. All the weights are going to go up, and this thing’s just going to keep getting bigger. And I think we’ve kind of seen that play out, where you’ve got these guys—like, I was fortunate enough to call the Games this year as the color commentator, and as I’m watching the Games and you’re watching Mat Fraser squat clean almost 404 and just one workout after another.

Rob: 16:16 – Compete long, compete short and heavy and gymnastics. And you see the skill level, the purses go up, the endorsements, the sponsors, it’s evolving into a full-blown sport. It’s no longer just this obscure little, you know, backyard game.

Sean: 16:33 – You were featured a lot in some of the really early videos that CrossFit put out. How did that come about?

Rob: 16:43 – That’s actually an interesting story. So, I had a computer that I used to just sit on my desk and it was, you know, it was the computer that I used to run the business, but it had a little camera. It was like a Mac, it was a Mac desktop, and it had a camera that I used to just flip on, and record stuff that I was doing. And at the time, a lot of this stuff I was doing was just really heavy versions of existing CrossFit workouts.

Rob: 17:13 – And so I would film this stuff. I would give it a quick edit. And then I think I sent something to Tony Budding at the time, I believe I just sent it to Tony at CrossFit or media at CrossFit, something like that. I sent them an email and I said, look, here’s a video of something. I think it was like King Kong or I don’t know which video it was, maybe the deadlift thruster workout I had done. I said, you know, here’s a video of something that I shot. And at the time we weren’t a CrossFit affiliate. But they said, this is great, if you’ve got other stuff, send it, because we’ll post it up. So, I mean, at the time I had tons of this footage. So I started sending Tony everything that I had. And CrossFit was nice enough to start putting that stuff on their website.

Rob: 18:02 – And that opened up the floodgates for a lot of other athletes to do similar content. And then that evolved into, you know, where there was workout demo videos, of a lot of times it was me, Dave Lipson, Austin Malleolo, there was a bunch of guys, James Hobart, that would get called on like, hey, this workout’s gonna come up, can you shoot it and send it to us? And then, you know, they would edit it and put it up. So it just started organically because I had this content and I think CrossFit tapped into it and started putting it on their site, it wasn’t contrived. It wasn’t something that I was looking to do. I just, I was filming my stuff and putting it on my own YouTube channel. And, you know, it just morphed into CrossFit putting on their website.

Sean: 18:46 – One of I think the more infamous videos is you doing Grace at 300 pounds. What possessed you to even give that a try?

Rob: 18:55 – Yeah. So that actually a good story too. So, in 2010 in Albany, one of the events at the Regionals was you had a seven-minute clock. So it was a seven-minute event. But inside of that seven minutes, you had 40 seconds to do three clean and jerks with the heaviest possible weight. And you had unlimited attempts, and so you’ve got a barbell, you’ve got a bunch of weights sitting there and you’ve got seven minutes on the master clock. And then once you grabbed the bar to do your first lift, you had 40 seconds to complete three successful clean and jerks. And I was in the last heat, I had seen a bunch of the guys go, I think the best ones at that point was 265 and I went out and I think I did one or two reps at 265, I did 285 for a triple.

Rob: 19:55 – So I knew that I had won it. But I wanted 300 and I was like, I’m gonna give this a crack. So I put 300 on the bar and I did three clean and jerks in 40 seconds at 300 pounds.

Sean: 20:10 – Wow.

Rob: 20:10 – That planted the seed, because I wanted to see like, all right, if I can do three in 40 seconds at 300, could I potentially do 30 reps of that? And it took me, I want to say two to two and a half years of kind of letting that germinate and trying it in every different iteration. So I would do like, you know, one clean and jerk every minute for 30 minutes. I would do a clean and jerk at 300 and then run a hundred-meter jog. So I would do this in a million different ways. But I never hit the volume of doing all 30 reps. And then I had kind of mentally prepared myself.

Rob: 20:53 – Like, all right, I’m gonna give this thing a crack. And I started the camera and you know, I think I did six or seven in the first minute, way too aggressive, came out hot. But you know, like 20, 24 minutes later, whatever it was, I hit rep number 27 and then I missed 28 and I missed it again and I missed it again and I missed it again. And I’m like, I got three reps left, what if I can’t finish this thing? I’m never doing it again. But I was like, what if I get to 27 and I just can’t knock this out? Thankfully I hit 28 and then knocked out the last two just to finish it out and I want to say it was somewhere around 28, 29 minutes, but there was at least five minutes of fumbling around with rep number 28. And again, at the time nobody was doing that kind of thing. Now I’m sure it would just be, you know, like what Rich or Mat does like on a random Tuesday. But for me it was a whole lot and now I can’t even imagine doing it, but it was one of those things, it’s a box that I’m glad I checked.

Sean: 22:11 – Yeah. I don’t think many people are even doing that nowadays, man. That’s pretty impressive. We’ll be back with more with Rob Orlando after this.

Sean: 22:18 – How do I budget for new equipment? What do I do to attract new members? Where can I find a coach who will allow me to work on growing my business? Gym owners, Two-Brain Business mentors have heard every question there is, and they have answers. If there is something you want to know about the fitness business, don’t spin your tires. Talk to a certified expert who can help. You can book an hour with an expert at today. In 60 minutes, a mentor will answer your questions and show you a path to success. These mentors aren’t random people. Each one ran a very successful gym or runs one right now. These are kindred spirits who want to help. Book a free call today at

Sean: 23:10 – What motivated you to mix movements and elements from your background in strongman into CrossFit training?

Rob: 23:17 – You know, that’s pretty simple. It’s really return on investment. You know, from my perspective as a coach—now we’re shifting gears from like competitive side to like, now I want to help people move and I wanna get people on the path to fitness. I draw this comparison all the time at my seminars where we talk about the complexity and the learning curve on a squat snatch versus the complexity and the learning curve on a tire flip. And I ask, you know, I’ll usually ask the people in the audience, like, if you coach this stuff, how long does it take you to get a sedentary person to do a squat snatch? And the answer is, you know, the right answers are usually like six months plus. And my argument is I can get that same sedentary person to do a tire flip perfectly in about four minutes, and then I can have them doing it with intensity in a workout just a couple of minutes after that. So as a coach and as somebody who’s trying to get people on the path to fitness, I know that these movements exist, how can I possibly ignore them? How can I not put that in my toolbox? That was really the motivation to bring these movements that I knew had merit and bring them to the community. And the CrossFit community just embraced it from the start.

Sean: 24:36 – Yeah. That was my next question is what was the reaction to that when you start bringing out, you know, Atlas stones and tires and, you know, yokes and all that kind of stuff?

Rob: 24:44 – Yeah, I mean I think there was—from the way I remember it anyways, even now, there’s still a stigma associated with the word strongman. I think people have a—there’s an imagery that comes to mind when they think strongman. They think about guys like Brian Shaw and that are, you know, six foot six, 450 pounds and they’re lifting 500-pound Atlas stones and they’re carrying thousand-pound yolks. And so there’s an imagery that comes to mind. The problem is, very much like CrossFit, that’s the tip of the spear. Like that’s the stuff that you see on television. But what we needed to do at Hybrid Athletics, I had to engineer products that would enable normal people, regular people, like regular 175-pound guys, 130-pound ladies to do these movements.

Rob: 25:42 – So we had to build Atlas stones that went down to 35 pounds. We had to build farmers’ handles that were 20 pounds when they were empty. So that we made it, it’s what Glassman talks about at the Level 1s way back in the day, we have to make this infinitely scalable. So we created some gear that normal people could use and then we had to go out there and start teaching people how to do it. And that was the genesis of the seminar. It’s like, all right, well we have this stuff, we’ve made the equipment to make it accessible. Now we have to go out and educate. And the CrossFit community just soaked it up. I think they were ready for something interesting. And at the time, it was like a rabid culture of people trying to get information and knowledge and we just happened to hit it right where, you know, we had this new angle and I think that’s where Dave and Greg, they said, hey, we like what you’re doing. We’d like to bring you under our umbrella, so CrossFit from the top down just embraced us.

Sean: 26:48 – You were then dubbed the CrossFit strongman subject matter expert, and then you had to put together a course with a curriculum. What was that process like?

Rob: 26:57 – Oh, this is great. So at the time, there were a lot—I have a certain way of doing things and a lot like I think Dave makes adjustments on the floor at the Games, that’s kinda how I program. That’s kinda how I work out. Everything is a little bit, I say this all the time. It’s like drive-by Braille, right? We’re going to feel our way through this thing. So I was hanging around a bunch of people that at the time kept telling me, you need to come up with a formula.

Rob: 27:32 – You need to come up with like a curriculum where you’re going to carry the yoke on Mondays and you’re going to do Atlas stones on Tuesdays, there’s gotta be a rhythm and a cadence to this thing. And I trusted these people and I tried really hard to come up with a blueprint that I thought people would buy into. But it just didn’t work for me. And during the California road trip, which was this epic road trip that me, Dave Castro and Dave Lipson and Dave Malar, Bill Grundler, like we went all the way up the California coast. We started down at Coronado, made our way up to San Francisco, and then we kind of, you know, quote unquote “auditioned” for CrossFit at San Francisco CrossFit at the time. And that was the first time that Dave had seen our seminar, like how it worked.

Rob: 28:24 – So the night before the seminar, I’m sitting in my hotel room and I’m still handwriting this bullshit curriculum that I’m trying to fabricate out of thin air. And it’s like trying to write you know, a fiction story. It’s just not something I believe. And this is, I swear this is true. I took all the notes and everything that I had written, crumbled it into a ball and threw it in the hotel wastebasket. And I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say when I got up to the whiteboard the morning that we were auditioning. It was like walking up onto a stage, completely blank. And I had an outline for what order I wanted to do the equipment, but outside of that, I had no framework and it was basically built on the fly.

Rob: 29:18 – But I think my approach to that whole thing was just this is not something that’s scripted. It really is drive-by Braille. And how often do you put this stuff in? People would ask me, you know, how often do you carry the yoke? And I’m like, well, as often as I do chest-to-bar pull-ups. Well how often do you do the farmers carry? As often as I do handstand push-ups. Like it’s, to me it’s just one more thing, it’s not some special thing that deserves some special day and a special class. It’s just more toys that I can go into the toy box and grab.

Sean: 29:54 – I have not been personally to a lot of gyms that have what I would and I think what you would call traditional strongman equipment. Been to a few. Why don’t you think more gyms, especially now, incorporate those types of elements into their programs?

Rob: 30:09 – It’s a million-dollar question, Sean. I really wish I had the answer. Cause when I teach the seminars and I’m sitting there and you’ve got, you know, five or six gym owners in the audience and you ask them point blank, you know, as the day is wearing on, you ask them like, how do you go back to your gym on a Monday knowing that these movements are there and the ROI is so potent, right? That I can invest five minutes into this sedentary person who’s never done any of this stuff before and I can make this appropriately difficult for the person and I can dial it up and dial it down. And by the way, it has universal appeal, right? Like everybody likes to flip tires. Everybody likes to lift Atlas stones.

Rob: 31:01 – I haven’t met anybody that’s like, oh, I hate that. It has universal appeal. So you see the light bulb go on. I think that the major drawback, there’s two that I can think of, is one, is a lack of creativity on the part of the gym owners and their own creativity in how they program the workouts. They think like, well, we don’t have 10 yokes so I can’t program yoke carries. You know, there’s a creative way to integrate this stuff into your program even if you’ve got 20 people in class, there’s a way to get people through a workout. And I think a lot of them, they just don’t understand how you would work this stuff in. And then the other part of it is you have to so firmly believe and fully believe in the movements that you have to sell it to your members.

Rob: 31:56 – You have to get them to understand the value in these movements and the carryover into everything else that they’re going to do. And I think a lot of times, like even though people are unbelievably motivated at the seminar, a lot of times it wanes over time. So, you know, give it two, three weeks and you know, now they’re going back to their gym and you fall right back into the same programming habits. I think there’s a delay there. If somebody left our seminar, went back to their gym and had all the toys sitting there, I think it would probably make a substantial difference because they’d be more inclined to just say, all right, yeah, we’re going to program this stuff in. And they would see the from the membership and it would encourage them to do more and more of it.

Sean: 32:43 – If there is a gym out there, a gym owner or coach listening right now, who wants to add more strongman movements or elements to his or her programming, where should that person start?

Rob: 32:55 – If you go to, we have Strongman WOD which is like, it’s become like this huge, depository of workouts. And so if you have a yoke, you can very quickly do a filter and say yoke and all of our yoke workouts will pop up. You can also go to our Instagram page, which is @hybridwods, and that’s our daily programming, so people can see how we program and they can see what we’re doing. And I think that if nothing else, like there’s a couple people that I follow on Instagram only to see what workouts they’re programming. I love Pat Sherwood and what they’re doing at Linchpin. And I tend to line myself up a lot with his style, which is simple couplets and triplets. It’s old-school CrossFit. It’s a total throwback. We just happen to pepper in some more strongman movements. But I think @hybridwods on Instagram is a good place for people to go where they can see what we’re doing as a gym on a day-to-day basis.

Sean: 34:03 – You have always been known as the guy who lifts heavy stuff. How has that changed as you have now progressed into the master stage of your career?

Rob: 34:13 – Yesterday I deadlifted 550.

Sean: 34:15 – So not much.

Rob: 34:16 – No, not much at all. I put up a post I think last week on Instagram and I’ve been off social media, you know, on and off, I kind of go hot and cold on it. But I put up a post last week that, you know, even though the setting has changed and the backdrop has changed, cause I went from lifting weights in my basement to, you know, to my own gym and you know, so the backdrop has changed, my desire to be strong and my appreciation for like slinging weights around, it’s still there. And I’m 44 years old and I feel like I keep getting fitter, I keep getting stronger. We have a deadlift bar. We’ve had it here for years at Hybrid where it’s just loaded up and we leave it in the corner.

Rob: 35:09 – And we call it the cold bar. And you don’t warm up, you just walk over to it whenever the mood strikes you, you walk over, you give it—you know, you set up and you do a pull. And, you know, this thing has fluctuated from, I don’t know, call it 365, upwards of 525. And wherever it’s at, I’ll just walk over and deadlift it. And at the end of the week, I’ve done five or 10 deadlifts, at the end of the month, I’ve done an extra 50 reps, and you just keep adding to that baseline of strength. And to me, it’s still interesting. I’ve been doing this an awful long time and I don’t think there’s any finish line to the strength game.

Sean: 35:49 – Heavy days are always important for well-rounded fitness. I found as I get older, I tend to maybe, I don’t want to say shy away, but I look at them a little differently than I used to. How should older athletes incorporate heavy days or heavy implements into their training effectively?

Rob: 36:04 – Yeah. I mean, look, I’m 44 and the amount—even what I was doing two and three years ago, I kind of look at that and I say, man. Cause I keep notes on the last couple of years of my workouts. I have a note on everything. So I have my scores. You know, there are days I come in here and I still feel like I’m 35, and then there are other days that I come in and I feel like I’m 85, you know, it’s the game. But again, it goes back to the idea that it’s drive-by Braille, right? Like if you walk into the gym and your joints feel great and mentally you’re on point, then I think you’re probably in a pretty good place to go at it really hard.

Rob: 36:45 – On the flip side to that, I’ve been dealing with—I had knee surgery in May and I’ve just been dealing with this nagging recovery. And I’ve had to adjust a lot of things. So on the days that the knee feels good, I get after it; on the day that it doesn’t, I just adjust things on the fly so that I can still get a good workout in. I don’t beat myself up over it. I just kind of, you know, it is what it is. This is the situation that it is. I am 44, I am a car with mileage, and there’s a lot of squats, a lot of deadlifts, a lot of bench press, a lot of overhead work. It’s just a lot of work that’s been done, and you know, I always remember that, that it’s not—I’m not all that interested in the day to day.

Rob: 37:36 – What I’m really interested in is like the year to year. So you know, what I do today doesn’t really matter all that much because it’s just a tiny little stepping stone on what I did yesterday and it just sets me up for whatever I’m going to do tomorrow. And the big picture is like, can I still be getting stronger, fitter? Can I keep pushing, you know, the envelope into 50 years old. And I think the answer is yes, as long as the program is constantly varied, high-intensity functional movements that are scaled appropriately for me and my position.

Sean: 38:10 – You’ve been able to be part of the broadcast side of things for the Games the past couple of years. What’s it been like for you getting into that side of the sport?

Rob: 38:20 – To be honest, like I love it. It’s been a new challenge. I don’t mind talking, I don’t mind public speaking at all, the seminars, they’ve really— I don’t mind getting in front of people and especially talking about fitness, cause you know, I feel totally comfortable having that conversation. So, you know, putting a headset on and being part of that team, it’s been an incredible experience. And I’m fortunate that I’ve gotten to do a few different events where, I mean, you’re surrounded by real television people that are unbelievably talented. And these guys and girls that I’ve gotten to work with, they make the job pretty easy because, you know, everything is so professionally done that I know that all I gotta do is put the headset on and talk about CrossFit and that’s something that I’m really comfortable doing. I have no problems throwing that headset on. And it’s been a real treat to take on this new skill, cause that’s what it is. It’s a skill that we have to get reps at, to take this new skill and really explore where it’s gonna go.

Sean: 39:29 – What is now on the horizon for you and for Hybrid Athletics?

Rob: 39:32 – Let’s see, for Hybrid Athletics, so in our second location, the one in Bridgeport, next month we’re actually celebrating four years. We’ve got a great community of people here, we’ve got about 90 members. It’s not a huge gym, but I get to hang out with my friends every day. And so for the gym, we’re just going to keep doing what we do. I kind of put blinders on in that regard. I don’t really pay attention to almost anything that’s going on outside this box because it doesn’t do me any good to do that.

Rob: 40:05 – So we keep the blinders on. We keep the focus on, you know, making sure that people here are taken care of and we keep going through that self-induced hardship that we do every day. And then for me personally, there’s a couple of new products that we’ve been working on. There’s a barbell product that we are just finishing up with the tooling and then there’s a strongman-specific product that we’ve been—God, it’s taken like almost two years to get it through prototyping. So we’ve got some cool stuff coming out there and you know, and then the seminar, I think if I’m looking at the seminar, it seems like we might be shifting just a little bit in terms of, you know, not the content so much, but just the delivery.

Rob: 40:55 – I think the seminar, it started out as just we’re going to focus on six or seven movements and it’s all about the movements, and what it’s morphed into over the last three or four years because I feel like the feedback from people has told me that these are the parts of the seminar that they value the most is a deeper dive into programming and kind of what makes Hybrid program unique, how I program for myself. Because I program the gym for me. Like I literally don’t consider anybody else, I program these workouts for me as though I’m going to try to get back to the Games year after year and then we scale it for every single person in class. But you know, what we find is that people keep getting stronger. They keep hitting PRs and it’s a decently well-rounded program. So, for me, I feel like the seminar is going to move and evolve into a little bit of a deeper dive into like business management, programming, membership management, just some of those different little pieces that are—they’re not tire flips. We’re still going to learn that stuff, but I think the seminar might change direction just a bit.

Sean: 42:13 – Well, Rob, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this, man. Best of luck with everything with you personally and with Hybrid Athletics and I look forward to seeing the next video of you doing a 300-pound Grace.

Rob: 42:22 – I’ll put that on my list. Thank you so much, Sean, I appreciate it, buddy.

Sean: 42:27 – Huge thanks to Rob Orlando for taking the time to speak with me. If you want to find him on social media, he’s on Instagram. It’s @crossfitrobo, and his website is If you’re enjoying this show, I would encourage you to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio. Every week we bring you the best from the fitness and the business worlds. It starts on Mondays when Mateo Lopez fires up the marketing machine and explains how real entrepreneurs are generating huge ROI on ads. On Wednesdays, I bring you great stories from the most interesting people in the fitness world, and then on Thursdays, Greg Strauch and Chris Cooper bring you the best of business, a host of experts who can help you level up as an entrepreneur. So if you haven’t, please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio so you don’t miss a show. And of course, we would love to hear what you think in a review.


On Wednesdays, Sean Woodland tells the best stories in the CrossFit community on Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland.

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